Publisher: Headline Publishing
Source: Borrowed from library
Amber Appleton has a lot to be thankful for.
Amber Appleton has never had it easy.
Both are true. On the one hand, she's got the best friends a seventeen-year-old could ask for and a loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy. On the other, her mum frequently has too much to drink, Amber's never quite sure where her next meal will come from and ever since her mum's latest boyfriend kicked them out, Amber and her mum have been living in the back of a school bus.
Amber has always found it easy to be upbeat, to find the light in the darkest of situations. Until, that is, an unimaginable tragedy occurs. Forced to rethink her way of life, can Amber remain a rock star of hope?
This is the story of a very special teenager, whose faith and hope is tested to the limit.
Matthew Quick wrote one of my favourite, and underrated, novels Forgive Me Leonard Peacock. So that fueled my high hopes for this novel. Although I did very much enjoy the book, its main character and felt it dealt with difficult topics such as grief well, I just didn't feel myself loving it.
The book deals with a lot of topics in Matthew Quick's skilled and emotive way. We see out characters thrown into difficult situations facing grief, loss, addiction, homelessness, bullying and many other trials. Our main character Amber is a strong willed person, although she often thinks she is not and has had to grow up very quickly due to the circumstances she was placed in by her mother.
The way addiction and homelessness was dealt with in the book was really stark and quite sad. Often we think of homeless people as sleeping on the street, not often thinking that homelessness can strike from having to escape an uncomfortable situation and then move to temporary accommodation. This occurs in the novel as Amber and her mother flee an ex partner whose alcoholism, combined with her mothers own alcohol problems, leave them no choice but to leave and sleep on the school bus driven by her mother for work.
The dark themes of the novel are somewhat lifted by Amber's never ending optimistic outlook at life. She constantly strives to brighten the days of everyone around her, no matter the person. She has strong faith in god and allows it to guide her and lift her to help others around her. From her volunteering at a care home, teaching Korean women to speak English through singing and visiting a Vietnam army veteran for company when writing poetry. This introduces a wide and colourful cast of characters into the book that leap from the page.
The book was a lot of fun to read while also showing the reader how you can encounter many tragedies and losses but still encounter love and hope everyday.
Although this book didn't hit the mark for me, I did very much enjoy.