The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Matthew Quick and SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR

April 26, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


The fact that Matthew Quick earned both popular and critical success with his debut adult novel, The Silver Linings Playbook (now in Paperback), one might wonder why he would choose to switch genres and debut as a YA author of SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR, officially being released tomorrow?

The business answer is simple. Having already had written a second adult manuscript before The Silver Linings Playbook was published, Matt discovered that his adult-market editor was swamped and unable to read/work on the new book immediately. Rather than waste time in waiting, “Q’s” agent suggested he return to his high school English teaching experiences and reach out to teenagers by writing about them. And that led to the personal reason when the author realized, “I can do that.”

Indeed he did! For Matthew Quick’s perspective on young adults is a positive one, acknowledging that when at their best they still have “a beautiful innocence” about them. He also believes that though caught in between the desire to be thought of as adults and yet wanting to hold on to being kids, they are capable of doing amazing things while coming into their own. And those thoughts created the novel’s backstory as Matt says: “The teen years are sort of like a beautiful sunset. Brief, but powerful. I wanted Amber to represent this.”


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.

Of course Amber lives up to her title by being powerful, positive, and facing most challenges head-on, yet it is through the strong voice-driven storyline that the reader accepts, believes, and embraces her. TRUTH: Amber’s distinctive voice will fill readers’ minds, causing an almost instant connection from page one. The fact that the thoughts and feelings of a 17-year old girl could be expressed with such believability by a male writer is also fascinating.

However Matthew Quick has a simple explanation for this ability. First, the author notes that he’s counseled many teenage young women and listened to them. Then, with a bit of empathy and a good ear, he believes it’s possible to capture anyone’s voice.

On the other hand, Matt admits how much his writing needs that ability: “I write voice-driven stuff so I need to find a voice before I can write a novel. Amber’s voice just sort of popped into my head one day. I loved writing in her voice. It was a very emotional experience. I’m sort of an emotional guy, which people don’t get by looking at me. But I’m actually very intuitive and sensitive. True.”

TRUST: Simply read these Reviews and you’ll sense the critically high emotional feeling for this book. Please also read the 6 Comments to “Matthew Quick Shines A Writer’s Light”, giving special attention to:

Kent says:

“Sorta Like A Rock Star is considered a YA book. However, its message and story is so universal that even this 34-year-old male with a penchant for horror movies and punk rock records was left in awe. It leaves you wanting to be a better person.”

Yes Kent is Kent Green of Emerald Productions — one of “Q’s” friends and the filmmaker of the Book Trailer video — BUT his reaction and feeling are based on sincere truth.

Have you viewed the SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR Book Trailer yet? If not, do enjoy now.

After receiving the SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR Advanced Reading Copy from Little Brown to review, I fell under Amber’s spell as well. Her voice, her spirit, her hope and her faith are 100% contagious. She’s a teenaged girl in dire need and, though well aware of that reality, Amber chooses to help and buoy others rather than wallow in any type of pity. Why? Because she believes in the good of the world despite having experienced the bad. And, also, because she believes in God — JC, the ultimate sorta like a rock star.

Amber talks to God, prays to him and believes he’s listening to her most of the time. Her hope comes from this faith — a trusting belief. Matthew Quick’s writing is pure, realistic, and captivating as he manages to project Amber’s strength and optimism without a hint of Pollyanna. However this teenager did feel reminiscent of someone from my childhood tales…who?

The Pied Piper initially came to mind, only to be rejected. It wasn’t until the day after finishing the book that the answer came: Amber Appleton spread seeds of hope everywhere she went and, in time, those seeds grew and yielded much more than hope. Amber Appleton = Johnny Appleseed. Word.

What Matt has written could well become modern day folklore. And, if Amber Appleton is SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR then “Q” must be KINDA LIKE A GENIUS MANAGER! True? Please, whatever your age, read SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR and discover how true this is!

[Book Giveaway:] The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please visit on Thursday to possibly claim your book. Good luck!