Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John - ESSENTIAL

John, Antony Five Flavors of Dumb, 352 pages, Dial, 2010, $16.99. Language-PG-13 (4-swears, 1 f*), Mature Content-G, Violence-G
Piper may be deaf, but she is not dumb. That moniker is the name of the new garage band at her mainstream high school.  Dumb, as the threesome call themselves, has just won Seattle's Teen  Battle of the Bands and announces that they have arrived by playing on the school steps. When the amps literally meltdown on school property, Piper  signs her enthusiasm for the band's audacity but criticizes their amateurism. Taken back by Piper's opinion, the arrogant lead singer, Josh, challenges her to become their manager. Piper  knows she needs the money because her parents raided  her college fund to pay for cochlear implants for her baby sister. So she accepts their offer promising to get Dumb a paying gig within a month. The only problem is she has never actually heard them play, and she does not even know if they are any good. She recruits her chess partner to be the drummer, and the school beauty queen ends up on backup guitar. With five disjointed personalities in the recording studio, Piper learns to appreciate the likes of Seattle-natives Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix in her attempt to blend the five flavors into one single essence. Five Flavors is a rich, well-crafted, multi-layered work of realistic fiction. I learned a lot about the grunge music scene, deaf culture and rock'n roll icons as I followed Piper  on her rocky path of self-discovery. Piper's challenges to relate to the hearing members of her family rang true to life, and you will love the ending. For me, this book hit the right note. HS-ESSENTIAL; Reviewer: Gretchen

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