Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kearsten's Book Club: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John.

Once again, Kearsten's Book Club met to discuss, yell, and laugh as we talked about this month's book, Antony John's funny, charming and musically awesome novel, Five Flavors of Dumb.  Eighteen-year-old Piper agrees to help her classmates' band, appropriately called 'Dumb', get a paying gig following a Battle of the Bands win. Unfortunately, Piper knows very little about band management or rock music, and must learn VERY quickly to get the band to work together in time for that gig.

Okay. I'm having a hard time writing this summary of our meeting, mainly because I think this book, with it's love and celebration of the music I loved in high school, its bad-ass female lead, and delightfully snarky characters, is completely EPIC. I loved it when I read it last year, and loved it even more when I reread it this weekend. It's just awesome. Go read it. Now.

As for our discussion: book club really got into Piper's story. Many felt that her parents were way out of line in taking money from her college fund to pay for a cochlear implant for her baby sister (Kyra: "If my parents did that, we would have PROBLEMS"), while Piper's parents' choice - is it okay to hurt one child in order to help another? - reminded me of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper.  Pretty much all of us loved that Piper, who is deaf and has to rely on hearing aids, lip-reading and signing to communicate, is determined to make Dumb succeed, and not only refuses to let people discount her because of her hearing, but even uses people's prejudices to once or twice manipulate situations to her advantage. We also had a lovely interlude imagining several revenge plots for the much hated pretty-boy lead singer, Josh. He was the worst.

Happily, the author put together a song list at the end of the book, so I created a playlist on the library's YouTube channel (59Square) for your audio enjoyment. Check out a copy of the book to discover the significance of these songs!

Kearsten's Book Club heartily endorses this one, in which several teens come into their own and find their passions. If you've already read Five Flavors of Dumb, try out one of these similar reads!

Of Sound Mind by Jean Ferris. Tired of interpreting for his deaf family and resentful of their reliance on him, high school senior Theo finds support and understanding from Ivy, a new student who also has a deaf parent.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going. Seventeen-year-old Troy, depressed, suicidal, and weighing nearly 300 pounds, gets a new perspective on life when a homeless teenager who is a genius on guitar wants Troy to be the drummer in his rock band.

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk. When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. An angry, grieving seventeen-year-old musician facing expulsion from her prestigious Brooklyn private school travels to Paris to complete a school assignment and uncovers a diary written during the French revolution by a young actress attempting to help a tortured, imprisoned little boy--Louis Charles, the lost king of France

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