The title alone caught my attention when I picked this book up. Then I read the back and decided I had to read this. The main character is deaf, and somehow becomes the manager of a band who is full of the entire range of personalities, and she can’t even tell if they are good. If that doesn’t pique someone’s curiosity, I don’t know what will.
Our main character is Piper. She mostly deaf, but deaf enough that she has to get by on reading lips, sign language from her brother and mother, and what little hearing she has left. She’s dealing with the usual cacophany of high school tragedies and interactions when on a bad day, she tells off a band for doing what they do for free when they are missing an opportunity to make money. The group, Dumb, hand it right back at her and tell her if she thinks she’s so smart, she can get them a paying gig. An she accepts.
Then we get to meet the band. Josh is rich, and wants to live the playboy rock star life. Tash plays guitar, and really only joined the band to get with Josh. Will is on bass, says little, and perpetually looks like he’s high. Along the road to fame, they recruit Ed Chen for drums, the nerdy, best-grades-in-the-school introvert. Then Josh recruits Kallie on guitar so there’s a pretty face for all the media attention they think they’re going to get in the future. And… she can’t play guitar to save her life.
Five Flavors of Dumb is a rich character study. Not only Piper, who’s trying to fight the uphill battle called life, but every member of
Dumb, as well as her family. Anthony John fills out so many characters, even the ones we don’t like, until we feel like we could walk into the mall and find these people hanging out.
Then, the author throws us a curveball by showing his readers why music is awesome. Totally surprised me to come from a book. I couldn’t hear a single note played, or see the interaction of the band members, but I could get a feel for what they could sound like if they actually existed. Readers also get treated to pieces of Rock history when Piper and Dumb visit Kurt Cobain’s house and get into Jimi Hendrick’s tragic past.
Hands down, I would recommend this to anyone, even if you aren’t a big music person. Anthony John has a real talent for words, and he paints an image that doesn’t pull you into Piper’s world, but makes her world close enough that you can’t tell the difference.