Book Review: Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

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.

My Rating:  4 cupcakes

Amber Appleton is definitely a rock star, no “sorta” about it. True? True. She’s incorrigibly optimistic and hopeful, despite the less than ideal circumstances that life has thrown at her. She cheers up the elderly, rescues stray dogs, helps Korean ladies learn English (and how to embrace their inner diva) through song, and befriends a war veteran who has little interest in socializing, all the while encouraging them with her seemingly endless stream of positivity.

The secondary characters are just as amazing, and I can’t decide which ones I liked the most: BBB, who is quite possibly the coolest dog ever; Joan of Old, whose goal in life is to make Amber cry; Private Jackson, a war veteran who expresses himself through haikus… they were all so wonderfully crafted and unlike any I’ve read before.

Most importantly, this book is honest in its portrayal of the world. Death and alcoholism are portrayed in such a real way, with no sugarcoating or softening of the blows that they inflict upon the characters (and the reader). It also raises some very interesting questions about life, faith, and hope. It questions why bad things happen to good people, while acknowledging the truth that we don’t know the answer to that question and that we probably never will. It affirms that one person can inspire others, and reminds us to have faith in the goodness of the world itself and the people inhabiting it.

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