Seventeen-year-old Amber Appleton lives on a yellow school bus. True? True. Her mom has had a string of increasingly pathetic boyfriends ever since her father left them right after Amber was born. Her mom hasn’t eaten anything in several months, unless you count nicotine and vodka. In spite of this, Amber is probably the most optimistic person on the planet. She has a running inner dialogue with JC (Jesus). Amber spends every Tuesday teaching English to Korean Catholic women with the words of R & B greats like Tina and Aretha; they call themselves the Korean Divas for Christ. Word. She spends her Wednesday evenings at the old folks’ home in epic face-offs between herself, the Princess of Hope, and Joan of Old, the crotchety woman who faked a heart attack at last year’s Christmas party because everyone was having too much fun. The challenge is to see if Amber can make Joan smile before Joan makes Amber cry. And whenever Amber is feeling down, she goes and drinks green tea with the haiku-writing Vietnam vet Private Jackson. It seems that Amber’s unyielding optimism can be shaken by nothing.
I really liked this book. Once I hit about page 50 I could not stop reading. I stayed up basically all night finishing it and periodically found myself smiling like an idiot to myself as I read. The overall theme and feel of this book was so uplifting and sweet that I couldn’t help but love it.
Rated: High. A moderate for adult readers. There were numerous instances of mild to moderate language, mostly “h” words, but a few instances of the “b” word. There was one use of strong language. There was basically no violence, except – SPOILER ALERT – Amber’s mom is murdered. There are no details about how it happens; she just goes missing and then Amber goes to the morgue to ID the body; again, there are no details about this, we just read that it happens and Amber can’t stand to see more than her head. – END SPOILERS – Amber is pretty religious. She talks about God and to God a lot. Her relationship with God may come off pretty casual to some, but I did not feel it was sacrilegious or offensive.