Book: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication date: 2010
Summary: Piper, the main character in Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John, is an eighteen year old deaf girl whose parents raided her college fund to get a cochlear implant for her little sister. Money, then, is one motivation for taking on the daunting challenge of being manager of a teen rock band. The band plays in Seattle, where rock music permeates the culture like coffee, but not quite enough to penetrate the life of someone who is hearing-impaired. Advice from an anonymous fan guides her to the immersive experiences in rock music that she needs to understand the souls of the five band members in order to pull from them a harmonious performance.
Thoughts: This book enchanted me. I read it in two days, enjoying the voice of the narrator, the supporting cast of friends and family, and the ghostly presences of Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. I loved the teens represented in all their potential for greatness and destruction, the family in all of its broken beauty, and the rock music in all its crashing, crushing, gloriousness.
I am so happy that Antony John lives in St. Louis. This means that I get cool invitations like this one from the St. Louis Writers Guild to hear him speak on “Writing for Young Adults.” I don’t know that I’m so interested in writing for young adults, but I’m really interested in how an English-born male adult with hearing managed to create such a convincing voice for a Seattle-born female teenager with limited hearing. Any St. Louis folks want to join me on Thursday the 19th at the Brentwood Borders to hear him speak?
Appeal: If you were ever a groupie for a local band or had a fantasy of being in a band yourself, this should enchant you as much as it did me. Marketed as a teen novel, Five Flavors of Dumb will work for any age, young or old, who can connect with the rock music aspect — and it doesn’t have to be a strong connection. I’m a casual listener with eclectic tastes, but, through this novel, I was led to appreciate the rock music history in Seattle.
Challenges: Yay! A book with a number in the title for the What’s in a Name challenge.
Have you read this book? What did you think?