“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.”
This is my favorite quote from Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John. I wish somebody had said that to me when I was eighteen! I read this book because it was on a list of award-winning children and teen books, having won a 2011 Schneider Family Book Award, which “honors an author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for adolescent audiences.” Frankly, I’d never even heard of the Schneider Family Book Award. I just liked the description of the story.
Piper is a senior in a Seattle high school, and she’s deaf. She’s also funny, gutsy, and whip smart. Without actually planning it, she finds herself the manager of a rock band called Dumb, and she’s got one month to get them a paying gig. Her misadventures with the band force her to come out of her shell. She learns who the people in the band really are, and she also gets to know the strangers she lives with, namely her parents and younger brother. (Any more than that and I’d be spoiling it, and I hate spoilers!)
I think part of the reason this book resonates with me is because I was a photographer for a band for a couple of years, and I knew as much about music as Piper. I went to the recording studio, to rehearsals and to gigs with my band, and when they asked me how the music sounded, I would just smile and mumble nice things. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue, but I sure liked the way they looked. I learned a lot about life during those years, but music is still a foreign language to me.
I really enjoyed Five Flavors of Dumb. It had me laughing out loud, and I recognized the characters and related to them. The relationships felt real, and I also learned a little bit about deaf culture and Seattle’s rock history. I’m not sure the band using MySpace instead of facebook is current enough for a book published in 2010, but perhaps there was a permission problem with the publishers. At least they weren’t using twitter! (My love/hate relationship with twitter is long-standing.)
Read this book, and tell me what you think!