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Five Flavors of Dumb

Five Flavors of Dumb

4.5 68
by Antony John

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Piper is a seventeen-year-old high school senior, and she's just been challenged to get her school's super-popular rock band, Dumb, a paying gig. The catch? Piper is deaf. Can she manage a band with five wildly different musicians, nurture a budding romance, and discover her own inner rock star, though she can't hear Dumb's music?

"Complex characterizations,


Piper is a seventeen-year-old high school senior, and she's just been challenged to get her school's super-popular rock band, Dumb, a paying gig. The catch? Piper is deaf. Can she manage a band with five wildly different musicians, nurture a budding romance, and discover her own inner rock star, though she can't hear Dumb's music?

"Complex characterizations, authentic dialogue and realistic ups-and-downs give this title chart-topping potential." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"I loved it and laughed out loud. Hilarious and so smart. Dumb proves that everyone, no matter what, deserves to be heard." - Catherine Gilbert Murdock, author of Dairy Queen

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I loved it and laughed out loud. Hilarious and so smart. Dumb proves that everyone, no matter what, deserves to be heard." -Catherine Gilbert Murdoch, author of Dairy Queen
Mary Quattlebaum
This smart, lively novel captures the downs and ups of young rock and rollers…
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
"Seriously, what family with a history of hereditary deafness names their child after the player of a musical instrument?" High school senior Piper, who began to lose her hearing at age six, has mixed feelings about her parents dipping into her college fund to pay for cochlear implants for her hearing-impaired baby sister. But one thing is clear: Piper has to replenish the funds. Opportunity knocks when a disorganized rock band named Dumb invites her to be their manager. However, it soon becomes apparent that the members' egos are more substantial than their talent. In this witty yet thoughtful behind-the-music account of Dumb's journey to semistardom, John (Busted: Confessions of an Accidental Player) creates a series of humorous surprises while demonstrating how Piper's deafness, which is integral to the story and never feels like a gimmick, affects her life and those of her parents and brother, who are equally complex and well-developed characters. Relying on help from unexpected sources, Piper learns important lessons about music and media hype, while growing closer to her family and friends in the process. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
After opening her big mouth, Piper is the newest member of the band Dumb, and as the manager no less. Now she has the task of taking a band whose members do not listen, whose lead singer is a jerk, and who have no idea how to promote themselves and preparing them for a recording session with a major producer. To make the challenge even greater, Piper is deaf and cannot even hear the band play. Piper's OK with this, but it seems everyone she meets thinks that this is an impossible task for someone with Piper's disability, even her parents. Anytime a novel comes out with a new point of view, it is a refreshing change and this novel is just that. The story is original, the character unique and likable (except for Josh who is well-written as a total jerk) and their relationships are realistic. These are people readers will care about. The story's best quality, though, is how Piper's deafness is portrayed. Never in the book is she written about as a victim or as if she is disabled. Her challenges are there, namely the lack of belief in her competence, but Piper is more annoyed by them than discouraged. A definite "must read." Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
VOYA - Jennifer McIntosh
Piper stumbles on a rock band trio—Dumb—playing an impromptu set on the school steps. When it is 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 is only one problem—she is deaf. Piper is a realistically written, flawed person. She is bitter about her baby sister's new hearing implant, so fixated on making money that she misses the true spirit of making music, and oblivious to her friends' feelings. Despite this, she is still a likable character, one to root for as she makes one mistake after the next and cheer for when she finally gets it right. The author has done a good job of writing a character that happens to be deaf. Piper's deafness is an obstacle, but it is not insurmountable and does not take center stage in her life or in the book. The story is fast paced and funny and will appeal to both music-loving boys and girls. Although there are romance and family issues, this book is about discovering the joy of making music. Even someone who cannot hear all the notes can still feel the emotions when the right music is played. Teens of all ages will enjoy Five Flavors of Dumb. Reviewer: Jennifer McIntosh
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—When in a rush of uncommon bravado high school senior Piper offers to manage Dumb, her school's most popular student rock band, her family thinks it must be a joke. A retiring student and member of the chess team, Piper is neither the stereotypical band manager nor a typical teen: she is profoundly hearing impaired. After she discovers that her parents have spent the majority of her college money to treat her infant sister's deafness with cochlear implants, Piper's quest to get Dumb a paying gig leads her to consider her managerial role as a potential source of income. John's novel is written with a reverence for popular music—particularly the work of Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain—and a respect for its ambitious teen characters. Although Piper's hearing is a characterizing detail that could have been used solely to add a type of politically incorrect and screwball humor to the story, her abilities are seen as assets: while lip reading allows her access to public conversation, she is not above using sign language to obscure her intentions. The parallel attention to Piper's hearing family and the strain her parents' decision to treat her sister with cochlear implants adds to the greater story and informs the novel's direction and ending in a satisfying way. Set in the Pacific Northwest, this rock-and-roll novel joins the ranks of Randy Powell's equally thoughtful Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star (Farrar, 2003) and Blake Nelson's Rock Star Superstar (Viking, 2004).—Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston
Kirkus Reviews

Piper--gutsy, savvy and, yes, deaf--has signed her way into a gig that promises a big, necessary payoff: manager of Dumb, Seattle's Battle of the Bands winners. Seething with resentment and feelings of inadequacy after her parents raid her college account to pay for her baby sister's cochlear implants, Piper is determined to shape both Dumb's future and her own. Piper's struggles and growth as a manager--she is initially hampered by lack of both experience with intra-band politics and knowledge about music--enjoy realistic treatment, as do her nuanced relationships with family members and the super-talented and adorable Ed Chen. 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. Complex characterizations, authentic dialogue and realistic ups-and-downs give this title chart-topping potential. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"I loved it and laughed out loud. Hilarious and so smart. Dumb proves that everyone, no matter what, deserves to be heard." -Catherine Gilbert Murdoch, author of Dairy Queen

Meet the Author

Antony John (antonyjohn.net) is a stay-at-home dad who writes by night - the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives with his family in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Five Flavors of Dumb 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3 words - READ THIS BOOK! Great story, interesting characters, not just for young adults. The premise and the cover reeled me in, but once I started reading I was hooked and I did not want the book to end. It's about high school, music, family, friendships, finding yourself, and much more! I don't want to spoil it by telling too much, you just have to read it yourself - you'll be glad you did!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well crafted story. This is one I am putting into my "recommend for my daughter" pile. Some language but I didn't find it to be excessive. I'm in my 30'syears and I fell in love with the book, i think the issues and relatioships the story deal with makes it appealing for teens and up.
Lawral More than 1 year ago
John could have made the band of high schoolers trying to make it big the set-up a whole book in and of itself, albeit a much less satisfying one. Instead of being a book all about the band, this is a book all about how Piper, their manager, deals with them. But it's also a book about Piper and her life at school and at home. Woven through her parents reactions to Dumb are Piper's reactions to her family. Her maternal grandparents (now deceased) were both deaf and very into deaf culture. They instilled a sense of pride in Piper, along with the sense that she has the ability to do anything she wants to do regardless of her lack of hearing. Piper's mother and brother are both fluent in ASL (American Sign Language), but her father does not sign at all. Her infant sister was born deaf. In her, Piper saw a kind of ally. Or, she did until her parents raided Piper's college fund to get her sister a cochlear implant (a surgically implanted device that can restore hearing to severely deaf persons). Betrayal and closing doors all in one. She hopes Dumb will be her ticket out of town and to the college of her dreams. The juxtaposition of why Dumb's different members, Piper included, are in the band (money, fame, the music (said very seriously), and various crushes on other band members) cause problems. All the band drama keeps this from turning into a problem novel about a moderately severe deaf girl in a hearing family and high school. Though the fact that Piper is deaf comes up over and over and over again in her dealings with various people in the music business as well as with the band itself (and, sadly, her family), it is never Piper's defining characteristic, just as Kallie's skin color is never hers (though she is proud of her mother's self-proclaimed status as "the first African American to go grunge" (p160)*). The best part about Five Flavors of Dumb really is Piper herself. She has such a strong voice, sense of herself, and talent for sarcasm. I also loved her developing relationship with the girls of Dumb, Tasha and Kallie. I LOVE great girl friendship books, and by the end this one totally fit the bill. And watching Piper's rock music education was fabulous (the Seattle setting helped a bit). I grew up listening to Hendrix and other musicians of that era, and I was in middle school and just getting into Nirvana when Kurt Cobain killed himself. I can't imagine coming to these musicians as a senior in high school. Seeing them through Piper and the rest of Dumb was like "meeting" them all over again. Book source: ARC picked up at ALA *Quotes and page numbers are from an uncorrected proof and may not match the published copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel so awful at how I didn't know this book existed on Monday. I had half a mind to leave it in the library. The title caught me, the story kept me. Halfway in to the book, I thought it was over, but the *word that does not even exist yet* kept coming. I read the hard copy, and now I NEED it for my nook to read EVERYWHERE! Buy it. You will not be dissapointed. Unless you take offense to critisicm. Or hate rock. Or deaf people...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! The first page or two was a little slow (just to be honest) but it was a really good book. I liked the fact that Piper still did her best with the band even though she couldn't really hear them. It was a good story.
StalkinTheBooks More than 1 year ago
I've never read a book with a deaf protagonist in it before. I also don't have any hearing disabilities, but author Antony John made me feel as though I might understand what its like to be deaf. I'm glad that the novel is written in first person because I got to feel all of Piper's emotion towards her deafness, family and band with her. Piper's someone trying hard to figure out where she fits in, not just at school, but at home too, which made her a very easy character to relate to. She's also extremely sarcastic, incredibly smart and very determined. She refuses to let her disability stop her from achieving what she wants, whether its getting into her dream college or managing her high school rock band. I adore the relationship that Piper shares with her brother Finn, because its such a honest and realist one. They bicker and annoy each other just like siblings always do, but they also really care and look out for each other too. Finn is also quite mature for his age, which I found very refreshing, since so often younger characters can be rather obnoxious. I love how Piper's mom and dad are portrayed as well rounded characters. They come with their own set of problems, so they're not perfect, but they try to be active in their daughter's life, even when she doesn't want them to be. It's so nice to see a family that although a bit dysfunctional, genuinely do care about each other. As for the band, I loved how each member of Dumb was so completely different. Early on it seems like everyone is just a stereotype, but as they spend more time together, you start to see different sides to all of them. I'm sure that everyone who reads the novel will find at least one band member they can relate to, if not more. My favorites were Ed and Tash. I adored Ed for his constant willingness to help Piper and Tash for her take no crap attitude towards life. Since Five Flavors of Dumb is about a high school rock band in Seattle, I really appreciated all the musical references to artists like Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. It added so much atmosphere to the novel, since these were musicians that not only changed an entire city, but the whole landscape of rock music. The novel has a nice steady pace to it, which made it pretty hard to put down. I really did love everything about this book, I was even sad when I got to the last page because I wanted to spend so much more time with Piper and Dumb. Here's hoping for more... I don't normally mention my favorite quote, but I really loved this one: "Don't worry about wanting to change; start worrying when you don't feel like changing anymore. And in the meantime, enjoy every version of yourself you ever meet, because not everybody who discovers their true identity likes what they find." ~pg. 234
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was such a good read, I myself am someone who absolutely loves music and reading this book I felt like we had a bond going on, me and the book. The main character Piper is deaf and currently in need of some major money thanks to her parents and her new sister, and a band in her school challenges her to to be their manager and make them and herself money. Everybody thinks thats it's ridiculous that someone who can't hear music is managing a band, but Piper is stronger then anybody thinks and surprises many people. Along the book new characters join in, and new friends are made and feelings that have been hidden are finally presented. You will fall in love with Piper and her friends (but not all of them). Everything about this book is great, the humor, the characters and their growing relationships, the family drama, and of course the music (We love you Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain). I would recommend this book to everybody.
jadaykennedy More than 1 year ago
John tells the story of eighteen-year-old Piper, who is deaf, and becomes the unlikely manager of a rock band, Dumb. Crazy, right? A deaf girl, managing a band? Well, it doesn¿t seem crazy when you read it. Piper is a capable person, who is strong and determined. If only all of us in the hearing world were as confident and self assured as she is. She even manages to fuse these five very different personalities into a group that works together. The winner of the Schneider Family Book Award 2010. Highly recommended.
Dawn Katolick More than 1 year ago
really enjoyed seeing life through a teenage deaf girl. it shows the difficulties she goes through with managing a band and daily life. she realize people are more than what they seem.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Favorite book ive read in a while and i read many books my friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReviewerRachel More than 1 year ago
@ Rachel's Book Reviews Piper can't hear Dumb's music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.” Ha! This was a great book! When I saw it wedged between stacks of books in the Barnes and Noble in Fresno, I was intrigued. The title just sounded so interesting! I definitely thought this book held potential. While it took me a long time to get into it (over the half-way mark,) It was worth it. A THOUSAND times over.  Piper is a strong independent teenager despite her deafness. (In a way, I think this is a physical way to illustrate the reader’s own flaws, and teach that we can grow, and overcome them anyway.) She has frustrating parents, a new baby in the family to get the new attention and special treatment, and boy troubles of both the brotherly and romantic variety.  I love how real Piper is, she deals with annoying parents, misunderstandings, sibling squabbles, jealousy, disappointment,  she just encounters it all! I also adore Ed and Finn. Ed is the boy who goes out of his way to express his affection for Piper. He’s just so genuine! Finn is Piper’s brother, and while they have intensive fights, they love each other fiercely. It was just so down to earth…  The only complaint I have is that Piper really did seem to have leverage in the music world so quick. But you know, it IS a character driven novel, and everything has to have a flaw. I don’t have the book in front of me, and it has been a year since I read it, so unfortunately I can’t comment on cursing levels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like thus book because you learn that you should judge someone i you dont know them. And dont under estimate people before you get to know them
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has me on the edge of my seat waitin for the band to become famous some parts make me excited
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the entire book in an afternoon. I've always been especially fascinated with books about deaf or blind people, and this one did not disappoint. Loved every bit of it. I really liked how the characters grew throughout the story; your opinions change about them, and you end up liking the characters you didn't like and hating the ones you did!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book I have read it like five times and i never get tired of it Amazing and inspirational
Anonymous More than 1 year ago