I’ve recently become enamored with Matthew Quick’s quirky characters. My first experience with his work was The Good Luck of Right Now, and I had seen Silver Linings Playbook (the book is far better, but that’s a review for another time). Then, a colleague insisted I read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and that book blew me away (no pun intended). Recently I reviewed Boy 21 on this blog, and now that leads me to this one, the one published book of his I hadn’t yet read. (He has a new one coming out this year, Love May Fail.)
In Sorta Like a Rockstar, Amber is the kind of character you can’t help but root for. She’s living out of a bus she’s named Hello Yellow with her mother and Bobby Big Boy, her rescued dog. But she really lives far beyond the walls of just that bus. She has a group of school friends (The Franks Freak Force Federation), a group of Korean singing divas, a regular Wednesday event battling Joan of Old at the Methodist Retirement home, and a haiku-writing veteran whose dog Ms. Jenny is dating Bobby Big Boy. She calls her principal Prince Tony and generally puts people in the book and readers in a good mood. However, Quick is not one to just have a fluffy, feel-good story. Trauma strikes and makes Amber question everything. She spirals into an existential crisis and wonders about the point of it all.
The community reaches out to help Amber through her rocky time, but ultimately, the only one who can help her is herself. I appreciate Quick’s ability to pull us into the character’s mind and his ability to understand human nature. The ending of the book gives realistic closure–not some unbelievable, perfectly-tied-up ending, but closure that seems realistic considering what occurred for the characters.
One of the elements of this book I particularly appreciated were the haikus throughout–Amber writes one about Ms. Jenny and Bobby Big Boy:
Gray and white-brown dogs of ours
We watch quietly.”