Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

One of the things I enjoy about reading is finding a unique character that I would never encounter in real life. Amber Appleton is one of those characters. She is smart, funny and a bit pushy at times, but ultimately concerned about others. She spends her time outside of school with creative activities. For example, she attends a Korean Catholic church in an old store front. Once a week, she goes there to teach the Korean ladies (aka the Korean Divas for Christ) better English by having them sing songs by the R&B group the Supremes. And, yes, she shares the story how that all came about.

When we first meet Amber, she is living with her mother and dog in the school bus her mother drives. It is all against the rules, of course, but they have nowhere else to go. Amber's mom drinks too much and has had a string of too many worthless boyfriends to make any kind of successful life for her and her daughter.

Amber makes her way with the amazing people in her life. She met her outcast friends (The Five) in an elementary school special needs class and stills hangs with them in a marketing club led by the coolest teacher, Mr. Franks. One of the Five, Ricky, has a lawyer mother named Donna who Amber idolizes and sometimes wishes was her own mother.  The residents of the Methodist Retirement Home who she visits once a week to help keep their spirits up. Father Chee, the priest of the previously mentioned church. And Private Jackson, a secluded Vietnam veteran.

There is a chapter where Amber explains how she meets Private Jackson that is amazing. It could almost stand on its own as a really short story. When I finished it, I could only think how remarkable it was.

Amber faces (and hides) from tragedy. She questions the point of it all and her own worth in such a difficult world. She is a fascinating character.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

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