Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Five Flavors of Dumb--Antony John

Title: Five Flavors of Dumb
Author: Antony John
Publisher: Dial Books, November 2010.
Pages: 352 p.
Source: ARC through VOYA

This book marks my return to reviewing for VOYA. I'm writing the review in late October, but it won't be published until the VOYA review comes out sometime after that despite today's publication date (January 26, 2011). I'm sure my VOYA review will have fancier words so if you have access to VOYA you should go ahead and read that too.

Piper enters school and stumbles on a rock band trio--Dumb--playing an impromptu set on the school steps. Not wanting to be rude she stays and watches the performance. Lead singer Josh Cooke is animated, his bass playing brother Will sedated and lead guitarist Tash Hartley is the tough girl. They all do their own thing on stage and even Piper can see that they're not really playing together as a band. When it's over she winds up giving the band some unsolicited advice and they make her a deal--if she can find them a paying gig within the month she can be their new manager and share in the profits. She needs the money since her parents raided her college fund so she agrees. There's only one problem--she's deaf.

Dumb becomes a band of five when Piper recruits her classically trained percussionist friend to help the band learn to play together and the lead singer recruits the "hot girl" of the school to be eye candy and the face of the band. Kallie--the hot girl--thinks she's there to play guitar, even though she doesn't play well enough for live performances. All together they become what Piper refers to as the five flavors of dumb and it's up to her to help them mix up the flavors and become a solid band. With the help of her music-loving brother and a washed-up musician she sets out to do just that.

I loved this book. Piper is realistically written; she's not a perfect person. She's flawed. She's bitter about her baby sister's new implant that allows her to hear when Piper is stuck with old hearing aids and moderately severe hearing loss. She doesn't want to be treated differently because she's deaf, but she's often the one bringing it up to other people and thinking the worst of them. She's so fixated on making money that she misses the true spirit of making music. But she's still a likable character and we want her to succeed. We root for her as she makes one mistake after the next and cheer for her when she finally gets it right.

There's some romance in "Five Flavors of Dumb" but it's not overwhelming or a turnoff for boys. There's also family issues--Piper's relationship with her father is strained-- but mostly this book is about discovering the joy of making music. Even someone who can't hear all the notes can still feel the emotions when the right music is played. The cover might make boys think this is a girl book, but if they can get past it and focus on the music of the story it'll all be worth it.

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