Amber Appleton does not have a place call home. Except if you count the school bus her mother drives a home. Amber's mom, who has tendency not to eat and spend most of her money on vodka, promises Amber that they will be out of the bus soon - but she started giving promises already months ago when they were forced to live at the bus. But despite the bad situation Amber is in, she is full of hope - because of her belief in JC (Jesus Christ) and because of the people that are in her life (plus of course her dog Bobby Big Boy).
Amber is the narrator of the novel - she is Catholic, very optimistic and "the princess of hope". Her best friends are four guys - the only black guy in her high school, a guy who used to stutter, a guy in wheelchair and an autistic guy. The mother of the autistic boy, Donna, is Amber's role model and Amber's hopes for the future highly focus on being like Donna. When Amber does not spend time with her friends, she either teaches English for Korean woman, hangs out with seniors at a retirement home or writes haikus for a Vietnam war veteran.
When something really bad happens, Amber, who is known by everyone has a hopeful, optimistic person, changes. She is not sure she can keep going on and it seems that for the first time not even JC, her friends or her dog can help her. Will Amber be able to be the person she once was, or will the events that have taken place make her a totally different person?
It was hard for me to get into this novel. I don't know was it the voice of Amber or the writing style. At the beginning I felt like Quick should have maybe written from the point of view from a male narrator - some of the things Amber said are ones I have never heard from a mouth of a girl. Quick is a 40 year old man, trying to mimic the voice of a high school aged girl. But as the novel processes I got rid of the issues I had with Amber - you get used to her and her narration. Since the novel is told from the point of view of Amber, the language of the novel is the type of language Amber uses. There are a lot of nicknames (JC, Thrice B, DasBoot etc.) and some sayings etc. are repeated. It got some time to get used to the language, but I ended up really liking it. For some reason it reminded me of the way Chuck Palahniuk writes, just for younger readers.
What I really liked about this novel is the fact that it was quite brutally honest. It does not tell a fairytale, a tale of a perfect girl in a perfect world. It focuses on a girl who is has to try to find the hope and optimism back to her life when something really horrible happens to her.
I have to admit that I almost gave up during the first couple of chapters. But I am happy I went on because after a somewhat slow and tackling start, the story gets AMAZING! I think I cried for the last 45 minutes of the novel. Sorta Like a Rock Star is poignant, funny, sad and very real. Very, very real. I am dying to read The Silver Linings Playbook now, which is also by Matthew Quick.