SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR, published by Little, Brown and Company, Hachette Book Group, 2010
With a voice tuned with precision to that of a teen girl, using just the right dose of kick-ass sass, Quick grabs the reader from page one, which is expected but not always delivered.
Who can resist a kid who in the first paragraph says, “You won’t believe the bull I had to endure today.” And only a few pages later, “I’m a holy teenager of God, sucka! (Page 5), and describes a “flaming ball in the sky. (That’s the sun, sucka!) (Page 43.) If you learn nothing else from this book, it’s the best lesson on voice I could recommend.
The plot is enticing, too. Quick starts his story right off telling intimate details most teen girls would shy away from revealing, so readers feel like a best friend sharing the ins and outs of their everyday lives with someone just like them. Though not an edge-of-your-seat action thriller, this novel runs the bases around nearly every tragedy a teen could bear, yet not once does Quick fall into a cesspool of sentimentality.
As I was reading, I found one or two parts my youngest daughter would probably skim through–she’s always been one to race right to the action, never allowing herself a minute to sit idle. But her sisters would read this book two or three times, slowly, to avoid missing anything. They like to get a deeper sense of character, to dwell inside a character’s head awhile, and they don’t necessarily have to be running out of breath at every turn of a chapter.
I’m not suggesting the book has a slow pace–it might for someone who’s used to reading high-stakes adventures–but don’t be fooled into thinking there are no high-stakes in this novel.
Amber Appleton is a character easy to root for from the first time she asks someone for a hug (heart wrenching the way she craves love) until the last. She makes you want to reach into the novel and give her the tightest hug imaginable. But I think most of the power of this novel comes from Amber’s voice, one that shines through the worst of times and keeps the reader hinged to the page with her promise of hope, no matter the stakes.
That’s a powerful thing to do, to create a world where skies seem gray and life appears dismal, and yet we get to skip along with somebody who can see hope through it all. What a lesson in life this book has turned out to be.
I did have a small problem with one of the major characters, but I don’t want to spoil your read by letting you know what happens. Let it suffice to say I didn’t understand one adult, knowing enough of Amber’s circumstances, who did not then investigate a little sooner–yet I can’t say that I don’t know people like that. It just made me lose a little respect for this specific character early on. I would’ve expected her to have a less than enchanting chat with Amber’s mother to find out what’s going on, but that’s me. Probably too nosy for my own good.
But it’s okay not to like a character. Amber’s voice kept me with her every step of the way anyhow, and my heart sank for her and leaped for her often. If you’re looking for a single book that can evoke tears, smiles, laughter, this is the one to read.