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

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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

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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: #1,138,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 more than thirty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention. Matthew lives with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette, on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Hot on the heels of the excellent "Silver Linings Playbook" I jumped straight into Matthew Quick's next book, "Sorta Like a Rock Star" which is a Young Adult novel aimed at teens and is narrated in the first person by a teenage girl called Amber.

This is a review of the first 10 pages of this novel - is that unfair? Yup! Is that stopping me from writing this review? Nope!

Within the first few pages of this novel I regretted buying it. Matthew Quick is a 40 year-old man trying to mimic the voice of a teen girl, around 15 years old I think. The result? Dialogue like this:

"No lie"
"Yeah it's the 21st century. I'm a freak"
"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!"
"all freaky teenagers keep it real when we can"
"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."
"it's all good in the hood".

She also has the annoying habit of ending her paragraphs with either "True? True." or simply "Truth".

And that's all from just the first 10 pages! Does anyone say "word" anymore? Even the hipsters don't say it ironically anymore!

Maybe I'm wrong to judge a book by its first 10 pages but no way can I continue to read a 350 page book when the narrator sounds this unrealistic and stupid. But maybe I'm wrong again because I don't know any teenage girls and maybe they all speak like this? But it reads to me like a middle aged man trying really hard to write a kid's voice and utterly failing - it's just too naff to seem even semi-genuine!
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12 of 15 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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3 of 3 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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