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Five Flavors of Dumb Hardcover – November 11, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books (November 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803734336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803734333
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


"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

Customer Reviews

The best part about Five Flavors of Dumb really is Piper herself.
Lawral Wornek
Not only was Piper great, but the other characters all added something fantastic to the story and made the plot that much more interesting.
The Book Scout
So when I read the synopsis of this book, it sounded like it should be good.
Elizabeth@Nightmare on Bookstreet

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Five Flavors of Dumb is hard to describe and simultaneously do it justice-- most superficially, it's about a band named Dumb and a deaf girl aptly named Piper who serves as their manager.

Things I loved, and there are many. As a reader, my heart and soul is in characters, their development and their relationships with each other. And boy, was this book a rich breeding ground for that love. In most typical books, there are one or two characters who stand out in my mind as favorites, but in this book I loved them all. Each of Piper's family members is deftly drawn, loved and cherished. Both parents, Finn, and even little Grace is given their due. I was very moved by the conflict between Piper and her father. The pinnacle of that conflict was done pitch perfectly, and I remember gripping the pages, willing myself to get through it. I felt everything that she was feeling, and at the same time, I felt everything that her father was feeling. I loved how Piper and Finn started to see their father as a real person and not just as their father.

Don't even get me started on the band members. I will always have a special place in my heart (and a bit of a crush) on Ed Chen. Tash was vibrantly painted, a splash of color on every page. And Kallie. Somehow I knew she had a big story to tell, and I wasn't disappointed.

I am also a musician and loved all descriptions of the music, but the way the story is told, even non-music fanatics will be drawn into the rich description of the music and the band, the stories of the bands from the past and the great artists that came before.

Other surprises: I cried. Twice. Which I do not do often. And two twists that I completely got wrong. And loved that I was wrong, because the answers were so right.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ashleigh VINE VOICE on March 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.

After mouthing off to her high school's "it" band Dumb, Piper is stuck being their manager and has one month to get them a paying gig. She doesn't want to do it, but her parents raided her college fund to pay for an operation for her sister and Piper needs money. However, it's going to take a lot of work to turn Dumb into a commercial band. Between recruiting new members (one of whom lacks any talent), keeping the five flavors of Dumb from killing each other, pulling some cunning tricks to get Dumb places, fighting and making up with her family, and learning what music's all about, Piper has a lot on her plate. She can handle it. Well, she can if people will stop using her deafness as an excuse why she can't handle it.

I have heard nothing but praise for this book and was dying to get my paws on it and read it. That praise? Yeah, it is all deserved. This book is so good that it gave me the strong urge to cut my hair and dye it Atomic Pink.

It's not everyday you see characterization this strong in a young adult novel anymore. Get this: For once, the characters are deeper than puddles! Piper, as our heroine, is not perfect. She isn't always nice, she tricks people many times, and she provokes people more than once. She's also cunning, good at finding loopholes, and comes to see the band as more than a way to make money. Instead of her deafness characterizing her and being a disability, it's just another part of her. In fact, the abilities of lip-reading and signing that she gained because of her "disability" turn out to be valuable assets that help Dumb get ahead. She is deaf, but deaf is not her.

But the real star of this novel? That would be Kallie Sims, the "perfect girl" deconstructed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lawral Wornek on November 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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More About the Author

Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA's Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad--the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.

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