Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
My take: This is one of those books I have a hard time with reviewing. It's a book that can be so many different things. For me, I put it down at the end said, "What an odd yet sweet book." Then I mulled it over for a couple of days and I decided that there are layers to the story that resonated for me so much that I don't know that I can do justice by writing a review. But I'll try.
Each character plays an important and vital role for Amber. Amber, homeless and living in a school bus, loves her mother regardless that she pretty much blows as a mom. But at least she has her. And then one day she doesn't. Her mother is brutally murdered and Amber, eternally optimistic, loses her spark. Amber becomes angry, depressed, and apathetic. Without giving away too much, here are some of the roles in Amber's life (that can be applied to our own).
BBB: Just a stray dog Amber adopted. But she loves that dog and that dog loves her right back. No matter what.
Donna: Her best friend's mom. She totally rocks because she's a single mom, attorney, and makes the world a better place for the battles she fights. She loves her autistic son and loves Amber. She's Amber's surrogate and never gives up. Atheist.
Father Chee: Catholic priest from Korean church who helps Amber find JC (Jesus Christ). Through him, JC is often represented as he visits Amber and never gives up on her. He wants her to be who she is to become. He accepts she is not ready to be something she is not yet. But he's there.
Private Jackson: Zen. He makes tea. They drink tea together while their dogs play around. He writes haiku's. He believes in enjoying the moment. Sometimes the past is too painful, the future to scary. He will wash the teacups now.
Mean Joan of Old: She's mean and she's old. She quotes Nietzche. She wants to watch Amber cry. She is existential and the world sucks and then you die. Amber makes her smile. It's a game that the old folks gather to watch.
Ty: He's a boy that's part of the gang. He'll do anything for Amber. He gets things done. He goes behind the scenes and works the people. He is a believer in Amber and in her optimistic hope.
Her gang of boys: Different, oddball personalities. Nobody really sticks out to me but Ty.
The book is a story to be devoured. It is also a philosophical gold mine.