Amber Appleton is a girl I really wish I would have known in high school. No matter how hard her life might be she is totally dedicated to having a positive outlook and spreading happiness. Seriously, this girl even calls herself the Princess of Hope. Amber is a fierce protector of Franks Freak Force Federation (a group of boys who are her best friends), teaches English to a group of Korean women through the eternal wisdom of 60s girl groups, befriends a war vet who only communicates through haiku, and makes weekly visits to a local nursing home to cheer up the residents with her witty happyslams.
But there are some really hard things about her life too. Amber and her mother live on a school bus (her mom drives it for a living). Amber's mom is an alcoholic and frequently disappears on booze-benders. When she want to eat or shower, she has to do it at her friend Ricky's house. Amber never lets these things get her down... until one day something very tragic happens to her and the Princess of Hope disappears. The truly compelling part of this book comes from her peers... the people she used to help. They band together to help her out of her dark time and the end of the book is pretty darn magical.
So I have to admit, I did struggle with this book for the first few chapters. Amber's voice is S-T-R-O-N-G and overwhelmed me a bit. But I couldn't help it; I was totally sucked in by her quirky story and I bawled my eyes out (on an airplane, embarrassingly) through the last quarter of the book. But don't worry, the Princess of Hope would never leave you on a depressing note. I would recommend this book to girls or boys (though I think girls might like it more) who are looking for a unique story with strong characters.