Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sorta Like a Rock Star

Seventeen-year-old Amber Appleton, the "Princess of Hope" seems an unlikely candidate for eternal optimist. Homeless, she and her alcoholic mother live on the sly in a school bus (Hello Yellow) with Amber's dog, Bobby Big Boy (B Thrice). Life isn't easy, yet Amber remains cheerful and hopeful, adamant in her mission to make life a brighter experience for all of her eccentric friends. She volunteers teaching English to the Korean Divas for Christ, all of whom Amber has taught a variety of R&B songs; she spends many afternoons with a shellshocked Vietnam vet whose dog has become Bobby Big Boy's girlfriend; and she spars weekly with Joan of Old, a bitter, decrepit woman at a local nursing home. With the other old-timers as audience, Amber and Joan of Old embark on a verbal battle--Amber defending hope and optisim, Joan defending nihilism. At her high school, Amber's best friend is an autistic boy, one of her group of friends known as Frank's Freak Force Five, and Amber has almost daily disputes with football bullies, whom she dispatches with glee. Despite her circumtances, Amber embraces optisim. Until an incredible tragedy wallops her, threatening to sink the unsinkable cheerful girl for good.

I adored this book. As a glass-is-half-empty person most of the time, I didn't know if I'd like Amber Appleton, but her voice won me over from the first page. Humorous, smart, sassy, and ever hopeful, even the darkest soul can't help but love Amber Appleton. This is the kind of book that makes you laugh out loud and then worry like crazy. It's people with dozens of great characters, but Amber is the star. She's sorta like a rock star. True.

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