Back to top

Pitch perfect

Cover of Five Flavors of Dumb
A review of Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

"For the record, I wasn't around the day they decided to become Dumb. If I'd been their manager back then I'd have pointed out that the name, while accurate, was not exactly smart. It just encouraged people to question the band's intelligence, maybe even their sanity. And the way I saw it, Dumb didn't have much of either."

So begins Five Flavors of Dumb, a sharp, funny, heartfelt novel that hit all the right notes (sorry I had to go there). The narrator is Piper a senior in high school who accidentally agrees to be Dumb's manager and accepts their challenge to get them a paying gig within a month. Though the band just won a teen Battle of the Bands in Seattle, they did so knowing only one song well enough to play as a group. They're undisciplined, unpracticed and barely able to even read music. Piper has her work cut out for her before she's even begun, not least because she's profoundly hearing impaired.

The Five Flavors Piper has to work with are Josh, lead singer and hot guy, his brother Will, Tash, a goth girl in training, Ed, Piper's chess buddy and a classical musician, and Kallie the hot girl Josh pushes on the group. Helping Piper wrangle the group are her brother Finn, and Baz Firkin, an aging rocker whose help with recording their music is the "prize" they won in the Battle.

I loved so much about this book (which came to me through a recommendation on Twitter, I believe), but most of all I loved Piper's voice as she tells her story. Along with the challenges she's having with managing the band, Piper is struggling with choices her parents have made and how they impact her place in the family. She's not perfect, but she's strong and independent and willing to learn as she goes. As are the members of her new family, Dumb.

May 1, 2018