Sorta Like a Rock Star

Sorta Like a Rock Star

by Matthew Quick

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Overview

Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism—and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope?

With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope. The world is Amber's stage, and Amber is, well...she's sorta like a rock star. True? True.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316043533
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 05/03/2011
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 460,464
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Matthew Quick (aka Q) is the author of The Silver Linings Playbook (Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and three young adult novels, Sorta Like a Rock Star, Boy21, and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (Little, Brown & Co.). His work has received many honors—including a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention—been translated into many languages, and called "beautiful...first-rate" by The New York Times Book Review. The Weinstein Company and David O. Russell have adapted The Silver Linings Playbook into a film starring Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence. Matthew lives in Massachusetts with his wife, novelist Alicia Bessette. His website is www.matthewquickwriter.com.

Read an Excerpt

Sorta Like a Rock Star


By Quick, Matthew

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2010 Quick, Matthew
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316043526

PART ONE

Feel the Pain

CHAPTER 1

Lying down, shivering on the last seat of school bus 161, pinned by his teensy doggie gaze, which is completely 100% cute—I’m such a girl, I know—I say, “You won’t believe the bull I had to endure today.”

My legs are propped up against the window, toes pointing toward the roof so that the poodle skirt I made in Life Skills class settles around my midsection. Yeah, it’s the twenty-first century and I wear poodle skirts. I like dogs. I’m a freak. So what? And before anybody reading along gets too jazzed up thinking about my skirt flipped up around my waist, my lovely getaway sticks exposed, allow me to say there’s no teenage flesh to be seen here.

I have on two pairs of sweatpants, three pairs of wool socks, two pairs of gloves, a big old hat that covers my freakishly little ears, and three jackets—because I don’t own a proper winter coat and it’s extremely cold sleeping on Hello Yellow through the dismal January nights.

I can see my breath.

Ice sheets form on the windows.

My teeth chatter.

Sometimes I wake up because my lungs hurt so bad from taking in so much freezing air. It’s like gargling chips of dry ice.

My water bottle freezes if I take it out of my inner coat pocket.

Forget about peeing, unless you want to shiver your butt off—literally.

And it’s pretty lonely too.

Because I am holding him up above my head, Bobby Big Boy (Triple B) looks down at me, panting with his perfect pink tongue hanging out of his mouth. His breath stinks like the butts he’s always trying to sniff whenever he’s around any dog women—BBB’s an awful flirt even though he is totally monogamous and loyal to Ms. Jenny—but I want to kiss him anyway, because he is a sexy mutt and the most dependable man I know. He’ll never leave me—ever—which is why I don’t mind the smelly doggie kisses. Plus he’s wearing his dapper plaid coat, which I also made in Life Skills class, and his doggie jacket makes him look beautiful. His hair is mussed around the ears like Brad Pitt, or maybe like he needs a bath, but his eyes are loyal and kind.

As I finish my confession, I keep him waiting, suspended above me, his little legs running like he thinks he’s on a treadmill or something. There’s no rush. We are alone, we have all night, and Bobby Big Boy digs air running above my face.

I’ve been sleeping with Triple B for somewhere around a year now. I found him in a shoebox half starved—no tags. No lie. He looked like a sock that had been flushed down the toilet—having traveled through all those gross pipes—only to be spit out of some sewer grate into a wet orange Nike box set up sideways like some elementary school kid’s diorama. PATHETIC ALMOST DEAD MUTT, the exhibition would have been labeled, had some little tyke taken it into the science fair. Needless to say, I rescued his butt from the curb and nursed him back to health, mostly with scraps of meat I initially stole from Donna’s dinner table until she caught me and started buying BBB dog food.

Did I put up Lost-Dog-Found posters?

I’ll put it to you this way—if I ever meet the people who let Triple B get so skinny, watch out.

Bobby Big Boy is still air-running like a champ, and will keep at it until I lower him.

Regarding time, the parking-lot streetlights go out around eleven, and then there is no reading or writing—because I can’t risk some curious passerby seeing me using a flashlight. That would blow our cover. With no lights—all alone—things can get quite weird, which is why I like to keep Bobby Big Boy around. But it’s only nine-something now, so I’ll have plenty of time to do my homework, after I’m done confessing to Triple B, who doubles as my at-home priest, of course, because Father Chee is only God’s servant and not God, so therefore, not omnipresent. I have priorities, and keeping my soul white with a nightly confession is high up on the list. I’m a pretty good Catholic; I’m still the big V. Momma Mary and me are, like, five-by-five; I’m a holy teenager of God, sucka! And Mom won’t be back until after the bar closes, and maybe not even then. She’s gone a fishin’ for men, as Jesus says.

“Today, I kicked Lex Pinkston in the shin,” I tell 3B, his legs still going like mad, “which I know is a sin, especially since God made man in his own image, so He probably does have sympathetic (divine) shins prone to the unmerciful ache of a swift kick to the holy shin bone, and those Roman thugs probably kicked good old JC in the shins a few times before they nailed Our Lord and Savior to a tree, making Him equally sympathetic to the plaintiff’s case, but before you go telling God all about my sin of punting teenage-boy shin, Father Big Boy, let me stress that there were extenuating circumstances. Lex made Ricky echo something filthy again—and I warned that plebian, Lex, like fifty times—so I let him have it. I kicked him square in the shin, and he started hopping on one leg—his friends laughing like hyenas, or maybe apes. Scratch that. Primates are cute, and way smarter than Childress Public High School football players, who suck and never win any games, because they are too busy being morons.”

I could be wrong but—with his legs still running—Father BBB sorta smiles at my story, like he might even appreciate a good shin-kicking inflicted on an exceptionally evil classmate—which makes Father Thrice B seem almost human for a second. Or maybe I just want him to be human.

So anyway, what happened was… while I was throwing away my trash, Lex told Ricky to tell Ryan Gold that her “boobies are lovely,” which Ricky did, of course—not because he is one of God’s special children but because he is a guy who can get away with such things because he is special—and Ryan Gold turned bright red before she started to cry, because she’s still a prudish virgin pre-woman, like me, and Ricky just started robot laughing—“Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!”—like he does whenever he is upset and confused, and boy, did it make me mad. Especially since Ricky knows better, and is trying to earn the right to take me to prom. Donna would be devastated if I told her what her only son said today in the cafeteria.

I lower Bobby Big Boy down to my chest. He stops running and licks my under-chin in an effort to console me. The weight of him on my chest makes me feel less alone—sorta loved—which I realize might be whack, but we get love wherever we can, right? At least that’s what Mom says anyway.

“So am I forgiven, Father B3? Off the divine hook? Bark once for yes.”

“Rew!” BBB says, just like I taught him. He’s a good little doggie. Truly.

AA, 2009

When I finish writing the above essay, I rip it up and sigh. It kicked apple bottom, and yet I had to rip it up.

Bobby Big Boy runs south, ducks his little head, and burrows up under my jackets and shirts, snuggling up against my barely bumpy pre-woman chest and keeping me quite warm without scratching up my belly so much, because he is a frickin’ gentleman.

Maybe you think I had to rip up the essay because it was sorta a confession, and therefore private, but the truth is that I trust Mr. Doolin, my English teacher, the guy who asked our class to write a slice-of-life story. He’s pretty hip and lets us express the truths of our lives in our writing, gaining our trust so that our words can be more authentic, which is cool of him, because I’m sure our writing honestly—the truth—pisses off some teachers and parents, even though all freaky teenagers keep it real when we can.

Maybe you think I ripped up my essay because I didn’t want to narc out my friend Ricky or those moronic football players, but I don’t really care about narcing them out, because when you say or do repellent stuff in the lunchroom, that’s public knowledge as far as I’m concerned. True? True.

I wouldn’t want to turn in an essay that made Ryan Gold look bad, because she is a nice person, but I would have turned this essay in if Ryan was the only thing stopping me, because sometimes—when it comes to writing—you have to sacrifice the feelings of other people to make a statement. Serve the greater good and all, which Mr. Doolin says almost every day.

But the truth is that I don’t want anyone to know that I am living out of Hello Yellow—that my mom’s last boyfriend, A-hole Oliver, threw us the hell out of his apartment, and that my mom has to save up some dough before we can get four walls of our own. I mean, it’s a pretty pathetic story, and I’m not really all that proud to be my mom’s daughter right now. Homelessness reflects badly on both of us. True? True.

I’m sure there are people who would let us crash at their houses, because the town of Childress is full of good-hearted dudes and dudettes. Word. But charity is for cripples and old people and Mom is sure to come through one of these days. I still have Bobby Big Boy, and Mom still has her job driving Hello Yellow, all of our clothes and stuff fit in the two storage bins between the wheels, below the bus windows, so it’s all good in the hood.

Except that sitting here with my legs up and BBB on my chest, I can’t think of anything else to write about—especially since my original essay was so killer.

The quiet of an empty Hello Yellow can drive you a little nuts.

Bobby Big Boy and I just cuddle until the streetlight blinks out and everything goes black.

I can rest my eyes, but I can’t really sleep until Mom gets back from fishing, because I worry about her.

She’s still pretty.

Bad things happen to pretty women who have daughters like me and can’t afford to do jack crap for ’em, which makes said pretty women desperate for a Prince Charming—only Prince Charmings marry hot young chicks my age, or maybe a little older. Mom’s almost forty, so she’s pretty screwed when it comes to men. Sometimes I like to think about her marrying an old rich dude, who would act all grandfatherly and leave Mom tons of money when he croaked. That would be cool, but it ain’t gonna happen. Truth.

Another thing: Mom’s taste in men is akin to a crackhead’s taste in crack cocaine. Any old hit will do. And it sucks for all nearby loved ones (me) when mi madre is hitting the man-pipe again, because she sorta loses her frickin’ mind—to put it bluntly.

All alone on Hello Yellow, I think about Mom for a long time.

She sucks at being a mom. Emphatically.

She’s so ridiculously irresponsible and socially dumber than Ricky—who is diagnosed with autism—but I still love her. I’m a sucker for love and having a mom in my life. Call me old-fashioned, maudlin, or mawkish.

When I hear Hello Yellow’s front door being keyed into, I freeze and hold my breath.

Should be Mom.

Must be Mom.

What if it’s not Mom?

I’m in a creepy parking lot outside of town; it’s full of eerily similar school buses parked in perfect lines. Too much symmetry can be daunting. There are train tracks on one side of the parking lot and creepy woods on the other. Bad stuff happens by train tracks and in woods, because some men are inherently evil, and left unchecked, these dudes will do bad hooey—at least according to such cool cats as Herman Melville, who illustrated this exact point through that evil Claggart character from Billy Budd, which we just read in my Accelerated American Lit class. The Handsome Sailor. Budd Boy spilling his soup on Claggart in the mess hall—when Billy does that, it’s a metaphor for accidental homosexual ejaculation according to Mr. Doolin, who has coitus on the brain 24/7, and sees a sexual metaphor in just about any old sentence. “Handsome is as handsome did it too.” Herman Melville. Funny stuff. Truly. But being in a bus alone at night near train tracks and woods ain’t so ha-ha, believe me.

Plus there have been a few rape-murders on the outskirts of town lately and the cops haven’t caught the bad guy yet, which has lots of people freaked out and for good reason.

Madman nearby—beware!

Finally, I cannot take it and completely blow any chance I have of surviving an encounter with the local psychopath, mostly because I am only seventeen, and a chick, even if I am a junior now. “Mom?” I say.

“Amber? Did I wake you up?”

Whew. It’s Mom. “No. Some crazy lumberjack train conductor was just about to abduct me and make me his slave, but you scared him off. Thanks.”

“That’s not even remotely funny.”

“How was fishin’ fo’ men, any bites?”

“Nope. Nothing.”

“A good man is hard to find.”

“Damn skippy,” my mother says, like a used-up chippie who will never find her Prince Charming, but you can tell—by the tone of her voice—that Mom is faking something, trying to sound hopeful enough to make her daughter feel as though she will not be sleeping on a school bus forever, so I give her a little credit. She’s had a harrowing life.

“Always tomorrow,” I say through the darkness, as my mom pats my forehead like I am Bobby Big Boy. I like dogs, so I do not take offense.

“Does your puppy need to go out before I hit the hay?”

“Bob probably could squirt a few drops.”

“Please don’t call him Bob.”

“That’s his name.”

“Your father was—best to forget him, and—”

“Well, Bob here has to take a squirt, and I have school tomorrow, so can we skip the broken-record talk and get doggie duty over with, please? I can’t sleep without my pup.”

“Come on, little dog,” Mom says, clapping her hands. And Bob bursts forth from my pre-woman chest, widening the neck holes of—like—four shirts, and scratching the hell out of my neck. He loves to piss. It’s his favorite.

“Use his leash!” I yell, because I don’t want 3B to get lost in the dark.

“Okay,” Mom says, but I know she doesn’t use the leash, because I’m on it—it’s under my butt.

My mom lies to me all the time. She sorta has a problem. She is a fabricator of falsehoods. Or maybe she is just drunk again, which is no excuse.

Sometimes when I am losing faith in Mom—which is, like, all the time lately—I like to think about one of the top-seven all-time Amber-and-her-mom moments. These are little videos I have stored in my brain—all documenting the mom I knew before she sorta gave up on life, before Oliver broke Mom’s spirit and got her drinking so heavily. Here’s the number-seven all-time Amber-and-her-mom moment:

Back in the 80s—when Mom was in high school—she was a big-time softball player who helped her team win a state championship, which was the highlight of her entire life. She used to talk about softball all the time, and even used to play on a local bar team in a beer league. I used to go and watch Mom play softball against fat men with huge beer bellies and foul mouths. There were only a few other women who played in the league, and Mom was a million times better than all of them. Mom was better than most of the men too, for the record. She couldn’t hit the ball that far, but she knew how to hit through the holes in the infield, and she was one hell of a second-base woman—never making any errors.

Anyway, when I was a little girl, Mom got it in her head that she would train me and make me into a killer softball player just like her, so she took me to the sports store and bought me a glove and a bat and a ball and a hat and cleats and even a pair of batting gloves, even though I hadn’t asked for any of these things. This was well after my dad took off on us, and we never had all that much money, so this purchase was sorta a big deal, which I understood even as a little girl, so I just went along with the idea, even though I really didn’t want to play softball.

The next day, Mom took me and all of my new gear to the park. She showed me how to swing a bat and throw and catch a ball, but—even though she was a really good coach—I just couldn’t get the hang of any of it, and trying made me feel like a complete idiot. For weeks I swung the bat and never hit any of the balls Mom threw me; all of the balls she hit went over my head, through my legs, and occasionally nailed me in the face or stomach, and all of my throws went to the right or left of Mom or hit her feet. Mom never yelled at me or anything like that, but after a few weeks of steady failure, after swinging the bat and missing for the bazillionth time, standing at home plate, I burst into tears.

Mom ran off the mound and toward me. She picked me up and kissed me on the cheek. “Amber, this doesn’t happen overnight—you have to work at it if you want to be a good softball player. It takes lots of practice. It took me years!”

“But I don’t want to be a good softball player. I hate softball. I really do.”

Mom looked me in the eye, and I could tell that she was surprised by this news—I could tell she had never even once thought that maybe I wouldn’t want to play softball.

“I never want to play softball ever again!” I yelled. “Never again. I hate this! All of it!”

“Okay,” Mom said.

“What?” I said, shocked, because I thought that Mom would make me keep trying, because that’s what adults usually do.

“Amber, it’s just a game. I thought you might like it, but if you don’t want to play, well then, you don’t have to play softball.”

“You won’t be mad at me?”

“Why would I be mad at you?” Mom said, and then laughed.

“Because you spent all that money on equipment, and now I don’t want to play softball.”

“If you don’t want to play, you don’t want to play. It’s okay.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

We left the field, got some Italian hoagies at the local deli, and ate by the lake sitting on a park bench. We fed parts of our rolls to ducks, and it was really nice to just sit with my mom after telling her how I felt. It was good to know that I could tell my mom what I truly felt inside and still be able to feed ducks with her afterward. I really love ducks. I like watching them waddle around on land, and their quacking noises crack me up. True.

I remember the sun reflected in the lake so brightly, it hurt to look at the orange water.

“Thanks for not forcing me to keep playing softball,” I said.

Mom put her arm around me.

She never ever again tried to make me play sports, although we ate many more hoagies on that bench and fed flocks of ducks for years to come—and the feeding-ducks memories are something I truly treasure.

Quack, quack.

Ducks.

Pretty killer.

Back in the present moment, when Mom and BBB don’t return to Hello Yellow right away, I’m just about to get up and take care of business myself, making sure my best friend doesn’t get eaten by a rogue coyote or some other dastardly carnivorous mammal, but then Bobby Big Boy is tearing through Hello Yellow, jumping up into my shirts again, warming my belly and chest, and all is well under the comforter Mom had thrown over me before she left the bus, even though I had left it out on the adjacent seat for her, because we have only one comforter.

Bobby Big Boy’s pretty warm from running around and a little lighter without a bladder full of pee. I hear my mom lock up Hello Yellow and then walk toward me.

“This is only temporary, Amber,” Mom says.

“I like it. It’s like camping, only on a school bus, and without fattening marshmallows, a cancer-causing campfire, or the pesky Kum-Ba-Yah singing.”

“Did you get enough food today?”

This question pisses me off, especially since she probably blew what little dough she makes on cigarettes and vodka tonight, providing no dinner whatsoever for me or B Thrice. Mom only works four hours a day at nine dollars an hour, and she’d happily buy you a drink at some crappy bar before she’d buy a meal for herself or me. So depressing.

“Watching my figure,” I say, stealing Franks’ joke, “but Bobby Big Boy had a steak I swiped from Donna’s dinner table.”

“Ms. Roberts,” Mom corrects me, because the drunk has some sardonic notion of proper etiquette when it comes to surnames.

“Right,” I say, like a total bitch, because I can be a cat.

My mother kisses me on the forehead real nice, says, “Sweet dreams, my love,” and so I let go of the day’s frustrations, push my palms together into prayer position, and I silently hold up all the people and dogs in this world who I absolutely positively know need me to pray for them: Mom, 3B, Ricky, Donna, Franks, Chad, Jared, Ty, Door Woman Lucy, Old Man Linder (my manager), Old Man Thompson, Joan of Old and all of the old people down in the Methodist home, Father Chee, The Korean Divas for Christ, Mr. Doolin, Private Jackson, Ms. Jenny, Prince Tony, the Childress Public High School faculty, and the whole damn town of Childress, even the football team, even Lex Pinkston, EVEN my absentee biological father, Bob, who may or may not even be alive for all I know—I hold them all up to JC in my prayers, asking God to help everyone be who they need to be, and then I simply listen to Mom breathe across the aisle until Triple B and I find sleepy land together, and I dream of the real bed on which Bobby Big Boy and I will rest one day. My future bed’s going to be an ocean of mattress, maybe even a queen-size, sucka! Word.



Continues...

Excerpted from Sorta Like a Rock Star by Quick, Matthew Copyright © 2010 by Quick, Matthew. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sorta Like a Rock Star 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
mamalovesbooks More than 1 year ago
I do not write book reviews, I simply read and enjoy, but this book is not like anything I have read in a really long time. It moved me to tears and laughter throughout. I read the book in one sitting, and I know that I will continue to go back to it again and again. Amber Appleton makes me want to be a better person. I don't want to share what it is about, because I went into this book not having any idea, but I cannot express how beautiful and important this book is. I loved it from the first sentence, and could not stop. I kept thinking, this is the best moment during the book, and then something else poignant and wonderful would happen--until the very last page! Although this book is classified as young adult literature, it is really something every person should read and will be moved by!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is aimed towards the teen audience. Please read this book. It will change your view on people in general. It is a very moving book.
keep_on_reading More than 1 year ago
This is the second book I have read by Matthew Quick. The Silver Linings Playbook was excellent and a perfectly written story. This is beautifully written and a perfectly magnificent story. I suggest this to all ages, even though it is classified as young adult. There are parts written in here that made me feel as though they were written about me. And the ending is fabulous. I couldn't put it down; and have already read it three times.
Sensai More than 1 year ago
Amber Appleton sure has had an impact on me. She has dealt with so much yet she remains hopeful and confident in who she is and what she wants to become. Life can be so tragic but Amber still believes in spreading hope and love. This is the perfect book for someone looking for strong characters and a positive story line. Teenagers will love Matthew Quick's ability to connect with their world and adults will appreciate the positive message uniquely spread throughout. A great read for the casual reader and since I am a teacher, this book would serve as a perfect addition to many summer reading lists!
Meli30011 More than 1 year ago
This book is just so incredbal and sad. The way Amber faces Tis huge Tragedy and never gives up hope is just so sad. This book is not like any other book i have read! Everyone Must READ this fantistic book!!!
summerskris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amber Appleton sleeps in the bus that her mom drives with only her dog Thrice B for company. Despite her unfortunate circumstances, Amber is a very optimistic girl. She leads her group of friends and stands up for what she believes is right.There is definitely language in this book. At first, I found it hard to read because I wasn't familiar with the sort of life that Amber leads as her story is geared towards younger readers, but as I read, I found her growing on me. Amber talks like a teen, thinks like a teen, and acts like a teen. It's natural, and it makes her more relatable as you get to know her.I love Amber's optimistic view on life. It's very inspiring and makes you want to go out there and serve your community. The people with whom she interacts are very real and have their own stories. It's hard to say who's my favorite character, but if I had to name one, it would definitely be Amber. She's the girl you want to be--in nature if not circumstances.I felt like I lived with her during her depression, and I yearned for her to get back up on her feet. She's helped so many people, she deserves to have good karma. This is a beautiful story about a quirky girl that lives life as it should be led. You will laugh, you will cry, and above all, you will be inspired to become... well, sorta like a rock star.Thanks so much to Matthew Quick for sending me a copy of this book. I really enjoyed reading it. I recommend Sorta Like a Rock Star for tween readers looking for an inspiring read.
WarriorLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Story of bad things happening to a good person.
tiamatq on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amber Appleton is an unyielding optimist. Even though she, her mom, and her dog - Bobby Big Boy - live on a school bus, and her mom sort of sucks at being a mom, and Amber's starting to feel like the walls are closing in, she still maintains a positive outlook on life. Amber volunteers at a local nursing home, helps teaching English at a nearby Korean church, and fights to keep her favorite teacher from losing his job. But when a fatal tragedy destroys Amber's life, she loses it. She is just a shell of her former self, and it's up to the people she's always cared for to help Amber.It's almost impossible not to like Amber. As a character, her voice is strong, unique, and realistic. Great attention is paid to the surrounding cast of characters, making everyone - even the jerky jocks - realistic. Quick weaves together a story that involves poetry, religion, disability, and depression, without it ever becoming too overwhelming or preachy. I highly recommend this book!
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this story of a quirky, amazing girl, Amber Appleton, so touching. Amber is homeless at the beginning of the story, she and her mom are living on a school bus. But Amber is a giver, she's an advocate for her group of friends, The Freak Five, teaches Korean women English through a Catholic R & B choir, visits old folks in a nursing home on Wednesdays, and befriends a Vietnam Vet. The voice of the novel is all Amber's irreverant and raw. Tragedy strikes, and after nearly loosing her optimism, Amber finds herself on the receiving end of all the good karma she's created. I really liked this book!
TigerLMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amber Appleton refuses to let her tough circumstances dim her enthusiasm. She lives on a school bus with her alcoholic mother. Amber is a shining beacon of hope and optimism-- she volunteers at an old folks home just because she can, she helps out with an autistic student, she goes before the school board to fight to keep a teacher's job, she volunteers to teach Korean women English, she's adopted a puppy she found in a shoe box. A tragedy finally cracks Amber's rosy outlook, sending Amber into a deep depression that threatens to shatter her bedrock faith. Author Matthew Quick veers often into philosophy and religion through Amber, posing questions that will likely appeal to many teens facing their own issues. However, Quick walks a fine line with Amber's character expressing her faith and love of JC (Jesus Christ), and more than a few times I felt like Quick crossed the comfort line. Add to that a Hollywood ending that seems more implausable than most made-for-TV after school specials, I have a difficult time offering this title to high school students as a general audience. Sure, there will be many students that this book will appeal to. However, I'm a librarian at a public high school with a very diverse group of readers, and this will be a title I only recommend to specific students rather than a title I book talk to an entire class.
sshadoan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Straight to the top of my favorites list! I can't wait to review it on my blog. Seriously, this book is phenomenal, a straight-up champion of sincerity and optimism, like Pollyanna without the syrup. I am so in love with it.
bclanphere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amber Appleton had very little in her life, aside from hope, and she ruthlessly showered everything around her with that hope.  But when Amber loses her mother, everything she believed in seems pointless.   The friends and acquaintances she has made as Amber, Princess of Hope, are all she has left to help survive the tragedy of losing her mother.  Amber learns to accept her fate and move past the loss by seeing how her presence in other's lives has influenced their belief in hope and faith that everything will work out.Comments:This book is, by far, the best YA book I have read this year. Amber Appleton is the Princess of Hope, until everything she has is taken away from her. Although she lives in a school bus with her alcoholic mother, Amber manages to find outlets in her life to perpetuate her mother's insistence that everything is going to work out. This book is all about survival. Even for a teen who wants for nothing material, there are those that lack the connection to another person that makes them feel whole. Amber spends day after day putting the needs of others before her own, and you see her compassion on every page. The book has a strong sense of religiosity/ spirituality throughout, yet done in such a way that it isn't an ¿in your face¿ book about Christianity. When Amber loses her mother, she hits rock bottom and gives up all hope. It is through the determination of all the lives that Amber has touched that she realizes that she can move on and be the Amber that she was once.School Media Connection:A truly inspiring and thought-provoking read for adults, both young and old. I would offer this book to all teens, regardless of their lot in life. I think everyone can learn something from Amber. I would go so far as recommending this as an all class read as well. There are so many issues that can be used as topics for discussion and further study ¿ homelessness, poverty, grief/death, coming of age, etc. I think this hits all the genres aside from scifi / fantasy (sorry ¿ there are no vampires or werewolves or witches, fairies, etc. in this one). The religious aspects might be challenged, but any adult reading the book in it's entirety will see that no single religion is preferred over any other. There is more of a sense of faith and hope in the future and doing good for people that need good done for them than anything specifically religious. It's a book about acceptance and equality and doing the right thing. It's about looking beyond what you don't have to seeing what others need.
lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amber Appleton looks forward. Sure, right now she lives in a school bus with her mother and her dog, but she is going to go to college and things are going to get better. In the meantime, she tries hard to make things better for those around her. Then her mother is murdered, and Amber spirals into depression.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit rough in places, this is the heart wrenching story of a girl who lives in the back of a school bus, with her dog BBB and her mom, but manages to make a ton of very interesting friends and hold onto her optimistic outlook. This would pair well with people who read, "How to Steal a Dog" which is for younger readers, but this one is definitely for older readers. One warning: there are lots of references to Jesus Christ, who the narrator refers to as JC, so non-Christian students might not relate to the book much. One of those characters who stays with you long after you've closed the cover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My older sister read it and gave her book to me and i fell in love with it. The book actually made me cry because i can relate to some parts of Amber's life. The book is probally one of my favorites and i am glad that i read it. Worth every penny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read above ^^^
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. So much hope is in this girl. So many awesome friends that are their for her. I would reccomend thia book to anyone but mostly teens who know how cruel this world really is. I can relate ro smgwr appletob mqny wats but mostlt she ha hope.dde
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So full of hope and optimism and love in all forms. what a beautiful and hilarious read. Amber Appleton is a force to be reckoned with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite ever... its sad but recovers its funny too. Ha. Love it. Read this!!!
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