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Sorta Like a Rock Star Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 1, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, May 1, 2010
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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.

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

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316043524
  • ASIN: B005HKOTS2
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,231,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sorta Like a Rock Star is definitely one of the more fun contemporaries I've read this year, in spite of the heavy issues alluded to in the summary. While it took a couple of chapters to get me settled in properly with this story, it was totally worth it in the end. True? True.

Amber Appleton is a girl with unusual circumstances. She lives on a bus with her mother, takes showers and eats what she can at one of her best friend's houses, is part of a school organization with a bunch of oddball boys and volunteers at a local church and a senior center. With that much on her plate, you'd think that Amber would collapse into a ball and die of exhaustion (physical or emotional), but the girl is a ball of energy, optimism and strength. She has an unusual way of thinking (which takes some getting used to), but it fits right in with who she is.

But then, the great tragedy strikes. A tragedy that turns Amber's world upside down.

It's almost as if a switch is flicked, and Amber becomes a robot. She goes through the motions, even as despair and doubt threaten to drown her. My heart completely broke for her, and it was no hardship to understand where her anger, sorrow and doubts were coming from. Her situation, as viewed through her eyes, is hopeless.

And yet, as I've said before, Sorta Like a Rock Star is hopeful. How so, you might wonder, after reading the previous paragraph. Well, turns out that Amber has a great support system in her best friends, her favorite priest and the Korean ladies from church, her friends at the senior center and many, many more. Just seeing how much people were willing to reach out to Amber and help her in a time of need spoke volumes of her impact on them and their lives, and I loved that.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It took me a long time to get into this book. The first half or so was pretty boring to me and I didn't know how long I could put up with the terrible slang. I kept hoping the language would get better and go away but it mostly didn't. However, when the plot actually thickened and peaked I became immediately more interested. I found the haikus really interesting and the characters quirky. The ending was a little unbelievable and it flattened because of that. When I finished the book though I kept thinking back to the characters and the story so Quick must've done something right. I would say don't abandon it, because whether you love or hate it, something from this book is bound to stick with you.
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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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