Sorta Like a Rock Star

Little, Brown & Company (May 2010)

Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom’s boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). But Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. Instead, she focuses on bettering the lives of her alcoholic mother and her quirky circle of friends: a glass-ceiling-breaking single mother raising a son diagnosed with autism; Father Chee and The Korean Divas for Christ (soul-singing ESL students); a nihilist octogenarian; a video-game-playing gang of outcasts; and a haiku-writing war vet. But then a fatal tragedy threatens Amber’s optimism—and her way of life. Can Amber continue to be the princess of hope?

With his zany cast of characters and a heartwarming, inspiring story, debut YA author Matthew Quick builds a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope. This world is Amber’s stage, and Amber is, well… she’s sorta like a rock star.


Sorta Like a Rock Star is the perfect antidote to the squelchy does-he-or-doesn’t-he average teenage love drama weighing down Young Adult shelves. Amber is real and wonderful, everything you want in a main character. She deals with horrible life traumas and comes out the other side stronger for it. Have your tissues ready. Even the most cynical won’t be capable of quelling the rising tide of tears. Best read of the summer.” —⁠Lanine Bradley, Sacramento Book Review

“This special book dares us to embrace audacious hope. Amber Appleton is my hero.” —⁠Sara Zarr, author of Once Was Lost and National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl

“Every sentence in Sorta Like a Rock Star beats with hope and heart. If there ever was a manifesto for living with your heart wide open, for embracing exuberance, for choosing YES and WHY NOT, this book is it.  And Amber Appleton? She is the ambassador of sassy optimism.  This is a must-read, must-quote, must-hug kind of book, the best kind of book there is.” —⁠Justina Chen, author of North of Beautiful, and Nothing but the Truth (and a Few White Lies)

“I love this book so much, it’s almost hard to talk about … the most unforgettable book I’ve read in a really long time.” —⁠Jennifer Buehler, Ph.D.,’s Text Messages

“Quick, in his debut young adult novel, gives Amber enough of a quirky edge that her relentless hope in the face of poverty, abuse, and cynicism is inspirational, rather than sentimental, her story alternately comic and painfully moving. There are indeed ‘many worse things in the world’ that one could be than a ‘hopeful misfit.’ Indeed, there are few better.” —⁠Claudia Mills, Ph.D., Children’s Literature

“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!). Sure, Amber may be a little over the top at times, but aren’t all rock stars? Grades 9-12.” —⁠Angela Leeper, Booklist

“… a distinctive narrative voice … The multidimensionality of [Amber’s] character—its bittersweet possibility and utter improbability—will suck readers completely into her world, where they will ride waves of tears through to a world washed clean.” —⁠Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books

“Matthew Quick has given us a teen heroine who makes you laugh when you want to cry and cry when you want to laugh. This funny-sad book keeps you guessing until the very last page about which will win: the humor or the heartache? The answer, lucky reader, is both. In short, Amber Appleton might only be ‘sorta like a rock star,’ but she is certain to rock your world.” —⁠Dana Reinhardt, author of A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life and How to Build a House

“Completely blown away … the next John Green.” —⁠Trish McCarthy, Children’s & YA Events Coordinator, R.J. Julia Booksellers

Sorta Like a Rock Star is a touching, gritty read that will make you smile, if not laugh, and will force you to wish you had been a cooler teenager. Buy this book, read it, and keep it for your own children until they are teenagers. They’ll thank you one day.” —⁠Liz Wagner, The Collegian, La Salle University

“I challenge anyone to read Sorta Like a Rock Star and not come away with a smile and a decision to make the best of what they have—just like Amber Appleton.” —⁠Teens Read Too, Gold Star Award for Excellence

“… the world is a better place because Amber is in it.” —⁠The Toledo Blade

“The frenetic pace of the book took my breath away.  Before I knew it, I was submerged in Amber’s life and relationships.” —⁠Unshelved

“Equal parts humor and heartbreak, Sorta Like a Rock Star is a moving and worthwhile read. Amber Appleton is a truly unique and endearing character … This story is rich with discussion material.” —⁠Story Snoops

“Rating: Excellent. Lovable. A must-read for both young adults and lovers of YA books. This book is so unlike all the other, what I call, VCT—Vamp, Camp and Tramp—teen books out there. You want to hug it, it’s so endearing.” —⁠

“… a heartfelt tale of hope and how one person can make a difference in the lives of others. Cynthia Holloway’s narration is superb. She rocks as Amber and brings subtle differences to the eclectic cast of characters. A must-have audio book.” —⁠School Library Journal, **STARRED** review, audio book


— 2011 Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Winner

— 2011 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction Finalist

— **Starred review** School Library Journal

— 2011 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults

— 2011 Texas Tayshas Reading List pick

— Bank Street, The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2011 edition. (Fourteen & Up)

— Indigo Top Ten of 2010: Teen Fiction

— Gold Star Award for Excellence, Teens Read Too

— Translated into Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch, Hungarian, and published in the UK by Headline