Hannah Cobb's Reviews > I'll Be There

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
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Jul 18, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: ya-fiction

By Holly Goldberg Sloan
This novel is an incredible kaleidoscope of lives that intersect to form the colorful tale of two teenagers who meet over a badly sung solo and a desperate need to belong. Sam Border is an outsider, the son of an abusive criminal and a protective older brother to a boy most of the world doesn’t understand. Emily Bell is the only daughter of a happy, artsy suburban family, who doesn’t know what she’s been missing till she sings a terrible solo and discovers unlooked-for compassion from a boy who has nothing.

Sam and Emily form an unlikely and uneasy friendship. Emily is embarrassed by her affectionate family, and Sam is afraid to let Emily see the truth of his family life. Just when Sam and Emily are coming to terms with their love for each other, Sam’s father discovers the relationship and forces Sam and his brother, Riddle, to leave town. The haunting flow of Riddle’s unheard inner monologue adds to the urgency of the story, as everything the little boy knew is snatched away from him by his brutal father.

Somewhere in the wilds of Utah, Sam and Riddle struggle for survival; back on the home front, Emily’s classmate Bobby has set out to take Sam’s place in Emily’s life. An eighty-year-old hotel maid, a black bear, a couple of sheriffs, an illegal immigrant, a cowboy, and a criminal all share their stories as their lives intersect with Sam or Emily’s quest to find each other again.

This is a story about love, but not just the romantic prom-night kind: it’s a story about the many colors of love. The compassion of a ragged stranger comforting a girl embarrassed by a badly sung solo, the hospitality of a woman willing to open her home to two motherless boys, the courage of a boy willing to fight his own father to protect his little brother, the affection of a hungry little boy sharing half his food with a dog, and the determination of a teenage girl who is willing to give up the ordinary to love the extraordinary--a stranger named Sam.
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