Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – Review

Book Jacket:

The Challenge: Piper has one month to get a paying gig for Dumb—the hottest new rock band in school.

The Deal: If she does it, she’ll become manager of the band and get her share of the profits, which she desperately needs since her parents raided her college fund.

The Catch: Managing one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl who is ready to beat her up. And doing it all when she’s deaf. With growing self-confidence, an unexpected romance, and a new understanding of her family’s decision to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, Piper just may discover her own inner rock star.

You can read an excerpt here.


Five Flavors of Dumb is anything but – this book, if you’ll forgive the obvious, simply rocks. Dumb has it all: fascinating characters, authentic teen trials and tribulations, a band story with no glitter or glam (and only one rocking moment of pink), a lovely nod to Seattle’s rock history, and at its core a wonderfully complicated family dynamic that is marvelously authentic. Honestly I was completely ambushed by just how much I loved this book.

Dumb is very much a coming of age story – Piper, a girl who has always part of a pair, finds herself a party of one after her best friend moves away. Left alone to lurk on the edges of high school life – and feeling even more awkward as she’s now the only deaf kid in school – Piper is suddenly thrust into a situation where being invisible is no longer an option, where she is suddenly a vitally important part of a fractious group. I love how this story is never about being one of the cool, popular kids; never about trying to claw her way up the social ladder – this is a story about Piper finding something for herself, something she’s good at, something that means more to her than she thought it would, and something that changes her in ways she doesn’t expect, both in good and bad ways. This story does revolve around a band, but only because Dumb is the catalyst Piper needs – this is not a story about chasing musical stardom, this is Piper’s story – and Piper is simply fantastic; fresh, smart, never self pitying, genuinely facing family and band difficulties head on, and figuring out some important stuff about herself along the way. I also love how this book never once defines Piper by her deafness – the story gives us fascinating insights into how Piper hears her world, and how her deafness affects her family, but there is so much more to Piper that what she can and can’t hear.

This book is refreshing in so many ways – teens with personality, with hang-ups, with history; emotional hardships that are never angsty or overwrought; and a story that never once involves social climbing or a darkly handsome, brooding guy that inexplicably draws a girl in. Hallelujah.

Really the only thing I can say against this book is that the ending is fairly obvious, but honestly I was having such a good time getting to the end that knowing what was coming didn’t in any way spoil the fun. And the ending is exactly everything you’d want it to be.

I just can’t say enough about this book – Five Flavors of Dumb is a complete, engrossing, fantastic read that works on every level. This one is most definitely a keeper.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) says:

As Piper learns about Seattle’s rock heroes (Cobain and Hendrix), she sees both the band Dumb could be if they would choose rocking over fighting and the person she will become once she truly owns her deafness. Making Piper the manager of a rock band never feels like a cheap trick (pardon the pun) because Piper is not A Great Deaf Character but a great character who is deaf.

The Book Smugglers say:

Life Lessons, Seattle, Hendrix and Cobain, passion for music and is all about and above all, great relationships in all forms: between girls (and all the girls are AWESOME, I can’t begin to tell you how much), between brother and sister even father – daughter and mother-daughter. Also, a sweet, sweet romance that had me rooting from the get go. I really loved how all characters are so different and complex. And the ending was SO freaking cool!

An Avid Reader’s Musings says:

Despite the jacket copy, Five Flavors of Dumb wasn’t just about a deaf girl trying to manage a rock band. It’s about a young girl discovering herself and becoming the person she was meant to be. This might sound cliche, but Five Flavors of Dumb is a great coming of age novel that explores hardship and perserverance through tough times