Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sorta Like a Rockstar by Matthew Quick **Review**

Sorta Like a Rockstar
Series: None
Pages: 352
Publisher: Headline
Release date: 21st November 2013 (this ed)
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
Amber Appleton has a lot to be thankful for.


Amber Appleton has never had it easy.

Both are true. On the one hand, she's got the best friends a seventeen-year-old could ask for and a loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy. On the other, her mum frequently has too much to drink, Amber's never quite sure where her next meal will come from and ever since her mum's latest boyfriend kicked them out, Amber and her mum have been living in the back of a school bus.

Amber has always found it easy to be upbeat, to find the light in the darkest of situations. Until, that is, an unimaginable tragedy occurs. Forced to rethink her way of life, can Amber remain a rock star of hope?

This is the story of a very special teenager, whose faith and hope is tested to the limit.

The last time I read anything by Matthew Quick was when I read The Silver Linings Playbook, just after it came out. I remember thinking that, although I thought Silver Linings was okay, I probably wouldn't pick up any more of his books (even though I did like Silver Linings ... but I have to confess that I loved the film a whole lot more). I'm so grateful that I decided to ignore this original thought and go ahead and read Sorta Like a Rockstar – it turned out to be all kinds of awesome.

The first thing that really struck me about this book was the voice. The book is told from main character, Amber Appleton's point of view, and her voice is probably one of the strongest I've read in a long while. Not only do you get to know Amber through what she does and her story, but you also get to know her on a much deeper level, because you can hear her speaking the words aloud in your head. And I love her character; she's sassy, humorous, witty and (as Amber herself would say) a pretty cool cat. She proves herself to be a loving, caring, open person, and I seriously admire her (or dig that, as Amber would say).
I quickly fell in love with Amber – she'd definitely be on my 'fictional characters I'd like to meet in real life' list (and yes, this is a real thing).

But there are plenty of other reasons for loving this book. The host of other characters is another good one. Amber is well-known among the smaller communities in her hometown. She goes to a Korean Catholic Church 'on the other side of the Ghetto', where she helps Father Chee teach the local Korean women to speak English through the power of R&B; she cooks breakfast and dinner for her friend Ricky and his mother, Donna; visits a Haiku-writing Vietnam veteran; and she hangs out with the old people at the local retirement home. In all of these places she is well-loved, and the people she sees are beautiful. They become even more beautiful when Amber finds her already troubled world is falling apart around her, and her friends rally around to help her get through it.

You know a story is a powerful one when not only do you smile and laugh, but you cry (both from sadness and happiness) as well. This book was such an emotional rollercoaster for me. I have been known to cry easily at books that are sad, but it's rare that I get all teary-eyed when it's happy too – it has to be an incredibly special moment for me to get just as teary at happiness as sadness. But this book threw so many emotions around that I didn't know what had hit me until I was already in tears!

Sorta Like a Rockstar is a very special book. Not only is the writing superb (both Matthew's and Ambers – I loved Amber's 'Doggie Haikus'!), but the story is powerful and moving, and I was gripped all the way through. It's one of those rare books that manages to be both heartfelt and moving, yet quirky and funny too. This is a must read!


Allison said...

The movie The Silver Linings Playbook made me a fan of Matthew Quick. Since then, I've bought Sort of Like a Rock Star. The style takes time to get used to, but I did end up loving the book. There are many memorable quotes in it! I've also read Boy 21, which is an unusual book too, and want to read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

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