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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Listening Library (Audio); Unabridged edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307738116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307738110
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.4 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,264,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—Surreptitiously living in Hello Yellow, the school bus her mother drives as a part-time job, Amber Appleton is an upbeat Catholic who spreads joy and happiness while keeping her own difficulties at home very quiet. Her dog, Billy Big Boy, is her companion whenever possible. Routinely, Amber teaches ESL to the KDFC, dubbed the Korean Divas for Christ, with Father Chee on the piano; visits Private Jackson, a Vietnam veteran and haiku specialist; and regularly stops at a nursing home where Old Man Linder backs her corner in her ongoing war of insults with Joan of Old, a Nietzschean cantankerous grump who inevitably smiles in the face of Amber's upbeat humor. The teen and her friends comprise the Franks Freaks Force Federation, ostensibly a school marketing club, but really a place for them to gather. AA's unending optimism in the face of difficult circumstances is well depicted with snappy dialogue and inner musings. When real tragedy hits and Amber is unable to cope, the stark difference between the Amber of the past and the present is delivered in extensive white space and short paragraphs. Amber feels blank. Her reemergence is abrupt, but like a musical, it provides the feel-good ending that rolls on until every bow is tied, every bad guy is given a dose of the Amber spirit, and all of the people in her life are brought together. This book is the answer to all those angst-ridden and painfully grim novels in the shortcut lingo of short attention-span theater. Hugely enjoyable.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Although Amber and her single alcoholic mother are currently homeless and have been secretly crashing in a school bus, the 17-year-old remains a self-proclaimed princess of hope. And why not, when she has an adorable rescued dog and fellow socially challenged friends in the Franks Freak Force Federation? She is teaching English after school to Catholic Korean women, the Korean Divas for Christ, through classic R & B music; she is learning the art of haiku from a once-reclusive Vietnam vet; she is the reigning champion in a weekly word battle against a Nietzsche-loving senior at the Methodist Retirement Home; and she lives according to her tremendous faith. Her world and faith shatter, however, when her mother suffers a violent tragedy, and afterward, Amber struggles to reclaim her belief in God. This memorable teen’s fresh voice and uplifting spirit will endear readers (word!), while a bring-down-the-house ending will inspire them to find the best in humanity (true!). Sure, Amber may be a little over the top at times, but aren’t all rock stars? Grades 9-12. --Angela Leeper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Matthew Quick is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. He lives with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Customer Reviews

I really liked this particular book because I totally believed Amber.
I loved 'Silver linings Playbook" and I think I love 'Sorta Like a Rock Star' even better.
Carolyn Hastings
I RARELY cry actual tears while reading a book, but this one made me bawl like a baby.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By evanjamesroskos VINE VOICE on April 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Part of you is hesitant. You're wondering if a YA book about a teenage girl who lives on a school bus with her mother is really the kind of book for you. You're wondering if Amber Appleton -- who teaches English to Korean women, who visits old people in a nursing home when she's not related to any of them, who makes omelets for her autistic friend, who believes in god but is also cool with athiests -- is "believable." You're not sure if you're ready for a book about surviving the great and small challenges that befall a girl in today's world. You're afraid that it will not meet your high expectations or that it will meet your low expectations.

Don't be foolish.

In the hands of author Matthew Quick, you are well cared for. Amber Appleton is real -- as real as any of the great teenage voices that have come before. I can name them, but why clutter your mind with comparisons? Amber is new and yet familiar. She is a girl with a troubled mother. She is a girl that has a list of her favorite mother-daughter moments. She is a girl who thinks about fathers, who tries to help everyone else in order to help get through her own day.

Her world is real -- both joyous and grim. Her problems are real. She sleeps on a bus, for starters. Her favorite teacher is under siege. Her mother is depressed. And yet, there's something magic going on here that I can't describe without giving too much away. It has to do with haiku and video games and people coming together when everything is coming apart.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. DiOrio on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to be a teenager to read this novel. The only thing that is required of you is that you are ready to connect and feel a kinship with an offbeat teenage girl who spends her time caring for others, not expecting anything from anyone but in turn gets more than she could ever have hoped for. You'd have to have a pretty black heart to come away from reading this book without feeling uplifted (and highly entertained). If anyone might be hesitant to read a young adult book---perhaps it might be somewhat warranted to worry about reading Twilight or other such books, but this book should be required reading for the human race.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Howell on December 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
So, I was struggling with my feelings of this book and the rating for this book. It was between what I felt like is SHOULD be versus how I REALLY felt about the book. I finally went with my real feelings. It's not going to be popular, but so be it.

Yes, this book has so many important themes: homelessness, death, alcoholism, autism, diseases, poverty, bullying, outcasts, veterans, senior citizen, religion... So I felt like I should have liked it. But I just couldn't get over the writing. Every other line had "word" after it or "sucka" or "true? true." Kinda gangster-like. Which the character wasn't at all. And it just bugged me so much.

Yes, the book was about hope. And parts of it were heartbreaking towards the end. But it was all just too much, too over the top.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julie Shuff on March 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
One of the most human books I have read in a long time. I cried through basically the final third. If that makes me sappy, so be it. True? True.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Hudson on October 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Despite the fact that she is homeless and her mother seems to be shrinking into herself daily, Amber Appleton is an eternal optimist. She loves her dog, Bobby Big Boy, and the group of misfits she leads at school, dubbed Franks Freak Force Federation. Other than the four other members of the group, she has a wide social circle. She teaches English to a group of Korean women at a local church, visits the local nursing home weekly to cheer up the residents, and spends time writing haiku for a local veteran of the Vietnam war.

There is bleakness and inhumanity all around her, but Amber sees it all with a tint of rosiness, sure that she can rise above her situation to be like her role model, Donna, who is a lawyer. But when tragedy strikes, Amber finds herself questioning everything she believes and wondering if her view on life is all wrong. When disaster threatens again, she has to decide what's really important to her.

Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick is funny and sad and hopeful and uplifting and so much more. Amber shows that you don't necessarily have to be defined by your circumstances, and that individuals can make a difference--for good or bad--in others' lives. Mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 15 and up will be able to talk about several important issues, such as homelessness, alcohol addiction, the effects of autism, building community, and more. And Amber may just inspire you along the way to put your own efforts behind a cause or person who needs it. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Myfanwy Collins on May 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This one is for all of the kids who live outside the edge of normal, all of the kids who have secrets behind what their faces show at school each day, all of the kids who have been picked on, and especially for all of the kids who when faced with the worst, offer up their best.

This one is for all of you who are rock stars of hope, just like Amber Appleton the winning heroine of Matthew Quick's charmingly heartbreaking YA novel Sorta Like a Rock Star.

I've been a fan of Quick's writing for a while now and I expect a lot from his work. I expect honesty and humor and a wacky set of characters doing interesting things: and, boy, does this book deliver all of those things in spades. Most importantly, this book delivers a great big heart, all packaged within the body of Amber Appleton--who is one part Dorothy in Oz, one part Alice in Wonderland, and one part all her own. She's a girl who has been pushed down into a dark place due to circumstances beyond her control and when life deals her an unfair and devastating hand, even though she wants to give up, she refuses to.

Partly she keeps going because Amber is not alone in her hardships; through her dark times she has her friends (a group of misfit kids, a haiku writing war vet, a Nietzsche quoting nursing home villain, and a Catholic priest among others). In her darkest hour when all she wants to do is be alone, they will not give up on her. They fight for her in the way no one else ever has--not even her parents.

Amber teaches us to never give up yearning for a better future. She teaches us what it means to survive. Most importantly, she gives us hope.

Buy this book for your favorite high school kid. Buy this book for your mother and father. Buy this book for a complete stranger who looks like he is having a crappy day and needs a reason to believe. Buy this book.
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