Quick's (The Silver Linings Playbook) first book for teenagers is a searing story of redemption. Exuberant Amber, her dog, and her alcoholic mother live on the school bus her mother drives. Amber's outsize personality, unrelenting optimism, and vocal faith both in people and in Jesus (who she calls "JC" in her chatty prayers) mask her dire circumstances, as well as her mother's neglect, and spur her to find community where other might see outcasts: with disabled classmates, a Vietnam vet with whom she trades haikus, the Korean women she teaches soul songs to improve their English, and the residents at a local home for the elderly. Amber's voice (" ‘JC,' I pray. ‘You see us at the school board meeting? Whatcha know about that, sucka?' ") is matched in its extremity by her supporting cast and by a tragedy, which dramatically alters the novel's course halfway through. Readers may not immediately take to Amber's personality, but it's nearly impossible to remain unmoved as she is brought back from her lowest moments by the very people she refused to give up on. Ages 12–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/17/2010 Release date: 05/01/2010 Genre: Children's
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