At the beginning of this story we meet Amber Appleton, the hero of this story, who lives in a bus, named Hello Yellow, with her alcoholic, school-bus-driving mom, and her darling dog, Bobby Big Boy (Thrice B.) Defying these dire circumstances Amber is a girl of great hope and unyielding optimism, always seeming to find the silver-lining in everything. "True? True". Amber loves J.C. (Jesus Christ) but doesn't go to church though she prays constantly. She finds ways to better the lives of all the people she comes across: Donna and her autistic son, Ricky; Father Chee and The Korean Divas for Christ (English-language students); a group of old-folks in a retirement home; four misfit boys who love to play video games in the Marketing teacher's room; and a haiku-writing, cranky, loner war vet. But then a tragedy strikes and Amber isn't sure if she'll ever recover her sense of purposeful hope and optimism. But recover she must because Amber Appleton is sorta like a rock star, a rock star of hope.
Here's what one reviewer of Sorta Like a Rock Star had to say (and I agree):
Matthew Quick has given us a teen heroine who makes you laugh when you want to cry and cry when you want to laugh. This funny-sad book keeps you guessing until the very last page about which will win: the humor or the heartache? The answer, lucky reader, is both. In short, Amber Appleton might only be ’sorta like a rock star,’ but she is certain to rock your world.” Dana Reinhardt—author of A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life and How to Build a House. (from Matthew Quick's Webpage)
When a book makes me cry and laugh in the space of a few pages, I know I have found a gem. Quick seems to be concerned with making the world a better place and he does so by introducing us to a contagiously optimistic character who loves with all her heart. I dare you to read this book and not to feel moved to go out and help someone, somewhere. Read it first and then get out there!
BTW- Matthew Quick's blog (along with wife, Alicia Bessette) is titled: Quest for Kindness. How appropriate is that? Cool? Cool.