Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Title: Five Flavors of Dumb

Antony John

Publisher: Dial

Publication Date: November 2010

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.

Review: Through a series of brave choices, Piper offers to manage Dumb, her school’s band that has just won an indie band rock award. She makes the band a deal that she can get them a paying gig in a month. Any other teenager, and this would have been a less interesting story, but Piper is hearing impaired, so an entirely new set of challenges await her. And she’s ready to overcome all of them.

This book was recommended to me by various readers, so I’m not going to lie, I had some high hopes. And it lived up to all of them. Piper is a strong but struggling teenager. Her very young sister Grace is also hearing impaired, but Piper and Grace are treated very differently. The emotional rollercoaster Piper endures every night she goes home is heartbreaking. I felt all of Piper’s frustrations and sense of abandonment.  Her complicated relationship with her parents was sharp and unbearable at times. I felt a real sense of injustice on Piper’s behalf.

Finn, her brother, is a stable and well-rounded character who Piper grows closer to as the novel progresses. It’s easy to see why these two turn to lean on each other and it gave a nice sense of balance to the family life.

Yay to Antony John for creating Ed Chen, a shy chess playing geek as the love interest, who enjoys rocking out on his drums.  Ed is fully formed and well crafted. He is part teenage boy, part loyal friend and Piper’s sturdy rock. His refreshing friendship with Piper is light hearted and fun.

Tash, Will and Josh round out the rest of Dumb nicely. Each has distinct personalities, or lack thereof in Will’s case. This allows Piper to really shine through the novel, the reader experiencing her journey, her mistakes and her ups and downs as if they were their own. The obstacles Piper has to overcome in this novel are unique to her situation, and while she is a sympathetic character, she's equally flawed, which makes her even more interesting.

The use of sign language through the novel and Piper’s struggles with that and her hearing aids are well written. John does a fantastic job using Piper’s communication skills as another layer.

A wonderfully rich and fun story. Piper is a girl you want to root for. And Dumb is well, pretty awesome.

Rating 8, Cookie Worthy

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