Amber Appleton is one cool teenager. She is the self-proclaimed Princess of Hope and spreads optimism and goodwill wherever she goes. She teaches the Korean Divas for Christ (KDFC) English with the help of R & B music. She’s the only friend of a local Vietnam war veteran and haiku poet, Private Jackson. She also goes once a week to a local retirement home to cheer up the residents by having a verbal battle with the local nihilist. Amber is also homeless. She lives on Hello Yellow, the school bus her mother drives, with her mom and her dog, Bobby Big Boy. Amber doesn’t let the reality of her situation bring her down, though. That is, until a fatal tragedy upends her life and Amber is left to pick up the pieces.
Sorta Like a Rock Star is a young adult novel and the style of writing is very chatty. Amber is the first person narrator, and it can take awhile to get used to her voice. She’s obviously an intelligent and driven teen, but some of her idioms make her seem ditzy and silly. One thing the book (and Amber) has going for it is that while Amber is optimistic, she isn’t delusional. She knows her situation is far from stellar, but she continues to be her hopeful self because she realizes that’s what others need her to be. Her journey and transformation are both heartbreaking and heartwarming.