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I'll Be There

(I'll Be There #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  8,100 ratings  ·  1,283 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
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Verna Harris This books isn't about teens having sex, it is a learning experience, taking the reader outside the safe world that they may life in. It shares that n…moreThis books isn't about teens having sex, it is a learning experience, taking the reader outside the safe world that they may life in. It shares that not all kids life a smart phone/three meals a day life; that some kids live with danger every minute of their day. Some kids are too busy surviving to complicate it with sex because they are 'bored'.
Lucy it has a sequal, but can be read on it's own. many people say that the first book is best. it has a closing so you do not need a sequel.…moreit has a sequal, but can be read on it's own. many people say that the first book is best. it has a closing so you do not need a sequel.(less)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,100 ratings  ·  1,283 reviews

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Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit
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 f
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
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
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Chelsey Connor
Oh my gosh, what a story! and what a life to have lived, it's hard to imagine. This was a unique story. I am so glad it all worked out in the end for the Bell family and Riddle and Sam. my heart broke for those two boys. ...more
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
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cover-me

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
Steph Su
Dec 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 01, 2013 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
There are only two nice things I can say about this book:

1. It’s age-appropriate. It is YA that actually remembers what the Y stands for.
2. It is the only book I’ve ever read that is narrated by a grizzly bear.

At least I hope having the bear narrate was intentional…otherwise this book is even more incompetently-structured than I first supposed.

I’ll Be There opens one inauspicious day, in a Unitarian church in an affluent American suburb. Emily Bell is the pastor’s daughter, and she is terrified,
Althea | themoonwholistens ☾
“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.”

Okay so I read this years ago (I was maybe in 7th grade) in my school's library and I remember loving it to bits that I just needed more. And 7th grader me at that time was still reading Geronimo Stilton books and I remember being surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

I was touched by the relationshipSam had with his brother, Riddle. I simply loved the
Jun 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-uns, ya
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
T. Rosado

Re-read 1: 5/4/21
Still 5 Stars!

I was wrong in my first review about it being an omniscient POV. In the authors’s notes, she mentions that it is primarily a third-person, passive, multi-perspective narrative. That’s a mouthful.

1st Read: 7/12/15
5+ STARS!!!!!

"She had a son. His name was Jared. But when the man on the phone had said they'd found a boy in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and he'd said he was her son, she knew that this was also now true."

The mom in me wept after reading this short
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: realistic-ya
Read my blog post--this was a great book! Look forward to her next one.

That blog no longer exists, thanks to a library administrator who thinks blogs are passé. So I guess I should write a new review for this book.

It's just so delightful. The takeaway from this one is always about how differently people grow up and how the misunderstanding about someone else's past and context can defeat your relationship if you don't pay close attention. This book really
Mar 31, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nopety nope.

Things that went wrong
- the writing. WAY too much telling, hardly any showing. And telling in a really annoying way as well. Such short sentences e.g. "Nora waited. Emily seemed to be done. Now Nora seemed to be getting bored." It would be fine if it didn't happen so often, but the whole book is written like this. HECK NO.

- the characters. Emily is probably the blandest character I've come across this year. Sam is a bit better, but I still wouldn't hang anything onto the character de
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think almost 3 stars. I totally picked this book for the cover and because the audio was available. I ended up liking the book for Sam and Riddles story not the romance it seems to portray. That was lacking.
A clean book with some adventure. Teaches you to not judge someone by appearances. We truly have no idea why someone is the way they are or acts the way they do or what goes on in their life.
Margaret Stohl
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Loved the concept, but I just felt no connection to the characters and storyline. It should have been far more emotional, given the hand that Sam and Riddle were dealt. But I couldn't immerse myself and form any sort of attachment. ...more
Thanks Arlene for this gorgeous book. And, yes, I loved it so. Review to come x
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, ya
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
May 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Let me start off by saying that I honestly do not understand how this book got as many positive reviews as it did. No, I would not say this was the worst book I've ever read, but I definitely could've done without finishing this one.

I'll start with the positive:
This book had good values. I guess a lot of the book dealt with the consequences of one's past actions. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I can definitely see how that could've been a main theme. Also, unlike so many other books
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
Kristin McIlhagga
I read this book because of the topics of mental health (the dad hears voices), homelessness, and poverty; all of which need more representation in children's and YA lit. That being said, for me a book cannot (and should not) stand on topic alone; it still needs to be well-written and have authenticity of topic. I don't know the authors experiences or research with any of these topics which is a bit troublesome to me. I don't need a huge research section but would like some sort of acknowledgmen ...more
Katie Fritz
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sam Border knew he would have to leave Churchill eventually. His father would make them leave this town, just like the others. Clarence Border's stealing had sent them out of many towns quicker then it was possible for either Sam or his brother Riddle to get comfortable. Sam was okay with that, until he meets Emily Bell at the town's First Unitarian Church. Emily Bell, singing for the choir, is helped suddenly by Sam when she feels ill after her performance. They both are curious about each othe ...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 (where she graduated from high school). She wrote the screenplay for Angels in the Outfield and directed The Big Green, as well as a number of other successful family feature films.

The mother of two sons, Holly lives with her husband (the writer

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I'll Be There (2 books)
  • Just Call My Name (I'll Be There, #2)

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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.” 16 likes
“The way to make the pain go away was to put your mind somewhere else. you let your mind leave and float above you, where it could watch you.” 16 likes
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