Clothes. Nail polish. Books.
What do these three things have in common? They are my greatest vices! I buy them and buy them and buy them and have created such a collection of new merchandise that I have yet to wear, use, or read that things are getting a little ridiculous. This year, I’ve tried to take a page out of my (unofficial) life coach Hannah’s book and stand by her “just because I can buy it doesn’t mean I should” philosophy.
So far, so good. I’ve been tracking everything I buy for myself per month and have also been monitoring my book buying habits. My super long book buying ban from November to February was amazing, but since I pulled off the band-aid, I’ve been a book buying crazy lately. But the big difference this time is that I recognize it and I stop, which means I can spend my time reading books I have bought ages ago and haven’t had a chance to get to know yet. (In the last two weeks, I’ve read books I bought in spring of 2012 and spring of 2013 — yay me!)
Today I want to talk about one of those books because I need you to:
What am I getting all excited about before I even tell you the details? Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick (2011; Henry Holt) — a book I discovered by chance last spring when I was researching authors and whether they “double dipped” in the YA and adult worlds for our Big Kids’ Table feature.
I remember the day perfectly. My husband and I were preparing for our big East Coast road trip, and while I wasn’t in the market for any books I decided to treat myself to Fingerprints of You and Sorta Like a Rock Star. I bought both, read Fingerprints (love it!) and Rock Star stayed on my shelf, occasionally catching my eye as I lazed on my couch.
Finally I gave in. Exactly a year later. I had my doubts — the first chapter was a little hard to get into — but before I knew it, I was totally swept into this story and refused to eat, work, whatever until I was done reading. (Well, almost all of those things.) Here’s why:
- Sorta Like a Rock Star centers around Amber and her mother, both currently homeless and living in a bus after her mom’s latest boyfriend kicked them out of his place. While Amber manages to keep this under wraps for awhile (showering at her best friend’s house, putting on a brave face all the time), she’s about to reach her breaking point. What will happen to her and her mom when she does?
- Amber is probably one of the most memorable female narrators I’ve ever met — her tone is so vivid, so full of this tough chick personality she has going for her and she’s funny! But most of all, she’s a loyal friend, she’s determined to bring joy into the lives of so many, and it’s a beautiful thing. There aren’t many people who would be quite as selfless as Amber when their life is in the shitter.
- The religious angle. Now hear me out. I know this is personal but I’ll say to you that I am not the most religious person but I really appreciated Amber’s belief in God. Jesus Christ is literally a rock star to her, and she doesn’t have to be an avid churchgoer to feel that way. Certain circumstances causes her faith to waver (I don’t blame her) and this journey, while subtle, was so crucial to Amber moving forward with her life.
- Supporting characters that were not only as fully developed as the main one, but also just as diverse. I loved that Amber hung out with an eclectic group of guys at school, cared about the cranky old woman at the senior center, and never gave up on the haiku-writing vet. Everyone has their own story. (Reminiscent of the parable feeling of Holly Goldberg Sloane books.)
- I cried because this novel was happy, it was heartbreaking, but also because it was hopeful. I don’t know if any reader could read these pages and not reflect a little bit about their life and how they handle themselves in their darkest moments; how supporting people and bringing joy into the lives of others means something. It makes a difference.
- And finally: Amber has a rescue puppy named Bobby Big Boy.
Have I convinced you yet?
Let’s talk prices:
Results: Less than 10 dollars for what I would call a 5-star book? (If you know me, you know I don’t hand out 5 stars easily.) It’s a no-brainer!
I know my whole BUY IT NOW thing goes against the “just because I can doesn’t mean I should” mantra I have going on but we all have to make exceptions! And we should make exceptions for amazing books! Right? Right? There are also these important lessons:
- Older releases need love too.
- Your at-home bookshelf is sure to have some hidden gems buried in there. Go find them!
- Finding an awesome book is only made better when you can share it with friends.
Happy reading, all!