I'll Be There
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I'll Be There (I'll Be There #1)

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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  3,477 ratings  ·  675 reviews
Emily Bell believes in destiny. To her, being forced to sing a solo in the church choir--despite her average voice--is fate: because it's while she's singing that she first sees Sam. At first sight, they are connected.


Sam Border wishes he could escape, but there's nowhere for him to run. He and his little brother, Riddle, have spent their entire lives constantly uprooted b...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2011)
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Lisa O.
3.5 stars


I'll Be There is a modern fairy tale.
It reads like a fairy tale and it's got the tropes of a fairy tale, though revisited in a modern key.

It is the story of Sam and Emily.
Sam, our modern male Cinderella, has been on the road with his little sick brother for as long as he can remember, obliged by their psychotic father to live a miserable life, not going to school, kept out of society.
Emily is just a regular small town girl, reserved, introverted.
But when Emily is obliged by her fath...more
Reynje
4.5 stars (Brace yourself for the gushing - apparently my brain was having a fire sale on similes and adjectives.)

Books like this make me feel so grateful that I am a reader.

Imagining that I was born without a propensity for reading and/or taught to love it tends to put me in a panicky tailspin, at the thought of all the characters, places and emotional experiences I would have missed, had I not been so inclined to pick up a book whenever possible.

And as far as emotional experiences go, this o...more
Thomas
I'll Be There is one of the most unique young-adult novels I've ever read. It's about Sam and Riddle Border, brothers who have been moving around with their unstable father for several years - Sam, now 17, hasn't seen a classroom since the second grade. Their lives consist of grabbing food from garbage disposals, hiding from people who may report them to the police, and moving away whenever their criminal father makes a too close for comfort encounter with the local authorities. One day, Sam ste...more
April
When people say Do Not Read In Public, I should probably listen, as it would likely save my mascara. You want a book that brings crocodile tears from sadness and joy, read I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan. This is arguably one of the best contemps I’ve read all year.

Read the rest of my review here
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
3.5 stars
I’ll Be There has been collecting dust on my shelf for over a year. I usually don’t buy books unless I intend to read them right away, but sometime between ordering Holly Goldberg Sloan’s debut and actually receiving it, I convinced myself it would be too emotionally draining. So I just left it on my shelf where it made me feel guilty every time I looked at it. And then last night, I finally picked it up.

In the end, while I did tear up a couple of times, I’ll Be There came nowhere near...more
Erin
Jun 04, 2011 Erin rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Ugh. Okay. I saw amazing reviews on this book, so I was psyched. But in the end, it just disappointed me.

I'll start with this, though - I absolutely loved Sam and Riddle, and their ability to get people to fall head over heels for them (except the evil people, obvs). Their parts of the story were awesome. If the rest of the characters were written as well as Sam and Riddle, I don't think I'd have as much of a problem.

But it seems as if Sam and Riddle are the only characters you’re supposed to...more
Laura

Our lives are packed with people, relationships, and connections—big and small. So many people and pieces that come together, break, and fall away each and every day. Moments and people that passed by without a second glance could somehow, some way make an impact on your life without you even realizing it. Moments and decisions that ripple through time and unite the past with the present. This story reminded me again and again just how connected we all are—how an act of violence, kindness, or he...more
Steph Su
When one describes a novel as being “magical,” we often think of lyricism, of rhythm and beautiful descriptions. But Holly Goldberg Sloan’s debut novel, I’LL BE THERE, is magical in quite a different way. A story of how the little things add up to the big things, I’LL BE THERE takes extraordinary characters and ordinary moments and weaves them together into a suspenseful and unforgettable story, one of the most unique books I’ve read in 2011.

I want a Sam in my life. He is undoubtedly an extraord...more
Brigid
Dec 04, 2013 Brigid added it
Wowza. I don't know what to say.

I loved the book. I couldn't put it down. Another one that I read on my phone anytime I had a spare moment. I will agree with other reviewers who said that the relationship between Sam and Emily didn't have much development. But what's funny is that's not the point of the story. This book is a perfect example of an omniscient narrator. Imagine that this book takes place in a snow globe full of people, and you're watching everything from above. You're not going to...more
Capillya
This book took me on a journey I wasn't expecting at all. From the beginning, I thought I'd had this book in the bag. I thought I knew what I'd be rating it, where the characters would end up, the road they'd be on. Midway through the book I think I could hear Holly Goldberg Sloan laughing at me.

Excuse me while I go dig up every interview I can find with this author. The way she explores (so many) characters throughout this book is fascinating. The way she explores the human condition and its am...more
Angie
I don't know. I just don't know how any self-respecting book lover can see this book and not have to buy it immediately. I mean, look at that cover. It's gorgeous and haunting and somehow bursting with meaning all at once. As I mentioned before, it reminds me very much of the exquisite cover of Marcelo in the Real World--a book I loved without reserve. All that put together had me on the edge of my seat to read it, and I had a lovely copy all ready and waiting for me on the nightstand in the nur...more
Tim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)
This was fantastic! I'll be there is written in a unique and effective way. It's very hard to believe that this is Sloan's debut novel. The book explores the lives of several people, mainly the Border, Bell and Ellis families and how they all come together over the disapperance of the two Border children, Sam and Riddle and their abusive father, Clarence. Sam and Riddle are both very strong characters with distinct personalities, especially Riddle. In fact, I found most of the personalities to b...more
Catherine
Overall, I'd say well worth reading, I really enjoyed the story, but there were some things that distracted me, hence the 3 stars.

I liked least:
The first few pages didn't catch me. That's harsh, but hey. If someone hadn't recommended the book to me, I may have put it down based on the first few pages. Also, the ending felt a little too much like a "let's wrap up the movie with a tight little bow."
The thing writers also love to do in on t.v., especially in sitcoms, which is what I'll describe as...more
Kate
I mostly loved this book, thought the writing was beautiful and spare, and the story and characters intriguing and real. Some minor exceptions:

I never felt connected to Sam and Emily's relationship. I liked them both individually as characters, and felt their pain, especially Sam's. But there just wasn't enough of THEM for me to really believe in the intensity of their feelings for each other.
WTF happened to Bobby? At first he just seemed like a flawed but sympathetic character, but by the end S...more
Skye
This review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.

Sam and his younger brother Riddle live under the care of their unstable criminal father, constantly moving out of his paranoia. Drawn to music, Sam one day finds himself in the back pew of a church, transfixed by the off-key solo of Emily Bell, who's given him more incentive to stay than he's ever had.

Let's begin with: I'll Be There is one of the most charming books I've ever read.

The tone of I'll Be There pretty accurately represented wh...more
Keertana
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Sam and Riddle Border have spent all their lives moving from place to place with their father Clarence. Clarence suffers from paranoia and mental instability, causing him to resort to thievery to live and leaving his children poorly educated and socially outcast. When Sam meets Emily Bell in a small town church, they feel an instant connection. Emily believes in destiny, she believes that she has a purpose in this world, and she also believes that Sam is the key to this fate. F...more
Lúa.
Leer que a Sam y a Emily les unía el amor por la música fue la chispa que encendió mis ganas de leer esta novela. Pues bien, resumiendo:
Emily canta un día en la iglesia y Sam la observa desde la última fila. Sus miradas se cruzan. Ella sale corriendo tras cantar I'll be there de los Jackson Five ya que tiene pánico escénico. Él sale corriendo tras ella. Ella vomita. Él sujeta su pelo. Se separan. Se enamoran.
¿Y cuánto tiempo ha transcurrido? Media hora, a lo sumo. ¿Y cuántas páginas? 30, como m...more
Tamara
Favorite Elements

Short. Concise. Impactful. Sentences. Such as, "And for the first time in days, she smiled. Wide. Full. Complete."

Employs a "rolling stone" or "tag, you're it" technique. Every new character that is introduced comes with a small story that sums up their life and explains how they came to be in this story, with these people, who you love. And it all just seems to flow together. I don't know how Holly Goldberg Sloan did that, but I am impressed.

Least Favorite Elements

Bobby. (He s...more
Holly
Sam Border has moved around so much that of all the homes he's lived in what he most remembers is the sounds: rain on an aluminum roof, a rattling trailer. Waves crashing on a beach. What he’d most like is to move away from his mentally unstable father, but he would never leave his brother Riddle.

Riddle Border is small for his age and doesn’t say much. Mostly he likes to draw the intricate insides of things. He looks up to his brother Sam, who is more of a father to him than his real dad will ev...more
Emma
I'll be there is a romantic and adventurous story about two people who can't love each other because of their family. It's a really interesting, romantic and dramatic story.
The main character is Sam who has always lived in a camper with his dad and younger brother Riddle who never talks and always makes weird drawings in his telephone book.
Sam has never been to school or lived in a normal house. Then he meets Emily while she's singing in a church and they fall in love. Although Emily notices th...more
Margaret Stohl
Possibly my favorite book of 2011. This book will win awards, I'm calling it now. I think the author, Holly Goldberg Sloan, might be the top of my list in terms of YA fiction. This little book turned my heart inside out, and I haven't cared about a literary little brother like this since Charles Wallace -- or Ponyboy!
Tammara
Lovely, sweet, unique story of destiny and love-at-first-sight. Soul mates. Family. Loyalty. This novel exemplifies EM Forster's very famous, simple but profound quote: "Only connect."
Bladelor
Bon, que les choses soient claires, je crois que ce roman va être mon plus gros coup de coeur 2012 !
Que d'émotions, j'ai vibré durant cette lecture. MA-GNI-FI-QUE
Nomes
Thanks Arlene for this gorgeous book. And, yes, I loved it so. Review to come x
Trinity
My hearts a mess.

LOVED LOVED LOVED this book.
Zemira Warner
Read this review and much more on my blog, YA Fanatic.

I knew I didn't made a mistake when I bought this book. It has this beautiful cover (one of my favorites), the blurb screams pain and devotion and it got an advance praise from Gayle Forman, Sara Zarr and A.S. King.

This is a story about brothers, Sam and Riddle who were kidnapped by their scumbag father when they were very small. They travel all over the country, staying in their truck or in old houses, while their father steals and scams. S...more
Kirsty

This book captivated me from start to finish. You’d never know that this is a debut novel, as the writing is so compelling and flows beautifully. It’s sparse, but I feel that it really works with this story as it’s essentially a modern-day fairy tale and so the style doesn’t really lend itself to complexity. There’s so much packed into what is a relatively short novel, but none of it feels rushed – the plot moves along at a comfortable pace and there weren’t any slow parts for me. It did requi...more
Mark
"'Get in. I packed your stuff. We're out of here.'

It had happened before. Many, many, many times. But never like this.

There were choices. They knew that they could have run. And they knew that they could have refused to go. But it felt, to both boys, as if those choices did not exist.

Because, if you cared about something, it would be taken away. If you stood up for yourself, you would be beaten down. If you spoke out, you would be silenced. They had only learned how to be there for each other. O...more
Maythavee
I love this book so much! It was what I had expected and so much more!

I absolutely adore how Emily and Sam met because of music. I have a weakness for all things musical so it was just perfect how their story starts with ‘I’ll Be There’ (perfect title for the book by the way). This was so much more than a love story between boy and girl. It’s about family too. I love all the different relationships: Sam and Riddle, Emily and Sam, Riddle and Debbie, Emily’s family with Sam and Riddle. It was jus...more
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Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spent her childhood living in California, the Netherlands, Istanbul, Washington, DC, and Oregon. She has written and directed a number of successful family feature films. The mother of two sons, Holly lives with her husband in Santa Monica, California. I'll Be There was her debut novel (she earlier had written a middle reader book called Ke...more
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“For him and his brother, he now knew, that music was real. Becuase all you had to do, really, was be willing to use your imagination. And listen.” 11 likes
“Emily just knew that the grocery store clerk’s cousin had slipped on a bath mat and fallen out a second-story open window only to be saved because the woman landed on a discarded mattress.

But what interested Emily most about the incident was how the cousin had subsequently met a man in physical therapy who introduced her to his half brother who she ended up marrying and then running over with her car a year later after a heated argument. And that man, it was discovered, had been the one to dump the mattress in her yard.

He’d saved her so that she could later cripple him.

Emily found that not ironic but intriguing.

Because everything, she believed, was connected.”
5 likes
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