When I heard that the postergirlz had picked Sorta Like a Rock Star as a December Featured Title, I was immediately intrigued. What can I say? I'm drawn to books that reference rock in their titles. But, you know, maybe that's just me.
Besides - this book has WAY more to offer than just a rad title. My oh my, was I in for a treat! Here's what Booklist has to say about SLARS:
Although Amber and her single alcoholic mother are currently homeless and have been secretly crashing in a school bus, the 17-year-old remains a self-proclaimed princess of hope. And why not, when she has an adorable rescued dog and fellow socially challenged friends in the Franks Freak Force Federation? She is teaching English after school to Catholic Korean women, the Korean Divas for Christ, through classic R & B music; she is learning the art of haiku from a once-reclusive Vietnam vet; she is the reigning champion in a weekly word battle against a Nietzsche-loving senior at the Methodist Retirement Home; and she lives according to her tremendous faith. Her world and faith shatter, however, when her mother suffers a violent tragedy, and afterward, Amber struggles to reclaim her belief in God. This memorable teen’s fresh voice and uplifting spirit will endear readers (word!), while a bring-down-the-house ending will inspire them to find the best in humanity (true!).
Amber's voice is fresh, quirky, and unique - I'd direct any aspiring writers to SLARS pronto for a lesson in crafting authentic, original characters. Unsurprisingly, just as unique is her creator, Matthew Quick, who's here to wax contemplative on this month's theme, Compassion:
When I started writing SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR, the first-person voice of my protagonist, Amber Appleton, just sort of popped into my head. Part of me worried Amber’s voice was too intense, too Amber. Should I really be writing from the POV of the opposite gender? Did Amber talk about God too much? Would readers tolerate her quirks and catchphrases? But the more time I spent with Amber, the more I grew to love her, until I knew I had to complete her story.
I wrote SLARS during a happy period in my writing life. I felt good about who I was. I felt confident about my writing. This is not always the case. But at the time, I was strong enough to allow Amber to exist on the page exactly how she wanted to exist. I felt strong enough to offer my character, story, and myself compassion.
Since SLARS was published, many people have also fallen in love with Amber Appleton, quirks and all. I’ve received e-mails from teenagers who wish Amber were real, because they want to hang out with her. Some people have told me that Amber makes them aspire to be a better person. Others have proudly told me that they know someone who is very much like Amber Appleton. A few have said that SLARS got them through a tough time. And some have simply said that Amber makes them happy.
And so Amber and I are glad to bring you this story and hope that it will lift your spirits—or at least make you smile. And we, of course, hope you’re having a great day.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Matthew! You can definitely add me to the list of people who'd kill to hang with Amber. And as much compassion as you showed her (and yourself!) during the writing process, as a reader I'm impressed with Amber's continued compassion and empathy for others despite her own difficult circumstances.
So, readers - have you read Amber's story, and did it inspire you to show more compassion to others? Is there an Amber in your life?