Sunday, December 22, 2013
Yay, Matthew Quick for writing optimistic books in situations that are not entirely optimistic.
Like this book right here. Sorta Like a Rock Star is about Amber Appleton who lives on a bus with her mom and her dog. She does have good friends who help take of her...namely the mother of her one of her friends, but for the most part this is far from an ideal situation. Her mother is an alcoholic and all her best friends are kids she was put in a club with--basically other ~rejects from society.
But Amber is a force of nature, she's really super upbeat despite her situation and she participates in a lot of really cool things in her community. Like teaching English at the Korean Church or visiting the elderly and creating games to make their time more fun. Oh and she totally sneaks in her dog. And she fights with her friends to keep her favorite teacher's job. She's just really cool, you know? And it's so adorable like when she talks about how she came to do the job, she's like, "here's how I got this gig..." ♥♥♥
Tragedy strikes though and everything changes for Amber. Her entire world changes and it's hard to know if the Amber Appleton everyone knew before will ever come back? Will she? Read the book and find out! :)
One of the things I love about Matthew Quick's characters are how real they feel--just really fleshed out. Amber, of course, seems like a really cool kid but Quick doesn't sugar coat what might be her flaws either. She gets mad when people are ungrateful for what she does, she sometimes crosses the line or doesn't understand what is appropriate or inappropriate behavior, she takes pride in being "sorta like a rock star" to the people she helps. But those are just flaws, they aren't the only things she is. And it's true for all the characters, which is just so great. Relationships are hard, but they can work in the end, we just have to have big open hearts to forgive!
Amber gets down at one point in the book, and recalls how she first started trying to make herself more than what she is after seeing the her mom's kid at heart nature. As she's reflecting she thinks, "truthfully, --five years later--no one really takes me all that seriously. At best, I'm just an interesting blip in people's lives--an amusing footnote.....Sometimes I wonder why I try at all. What's the point?"
Aw, I related to this and it made me sad--but I feel like it's a really spot-on observation for optimistic, cheerful, helpful people. The world sits and takes notice so much of things that are darker are more depressing...or if someone is happy or tries to exude cheer, I think it's easy to forget the whole of who they are or the fact that it's work. It's work to remain positive when things don't seem positive, and it takes work to love others and be as generous as possible and that work should never be taken for granted or belittled.
Which is why I love this book, because in the face of things that are dark and hard and very very sad, Quick makes a declaration that Amber is more than an interesting blip in people's life. It's really very beautiful and upbeat without downplaying that life and relationships are also hard. I cried at the end and I think you will, too. And it also made me want to be more like Amber--open hearted and caring for groups and people who might otherwise get overlooked. Human kindness, it gets me everytime.
A long time I did receive a review copy of this book...it's sad it took me so long to read it!
Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick