Limonessa's Reviews > I'll Be There

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
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really liked it
bookshelves: 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 father to sing a solo in church and sees Sam sitting on the back pew, something in the cosmic order of things shifts and their encounter will trigger a series of events which will change, once and for all, not only Sam, Riddle and Emily's lives profoundly but the lives of all people who will get caught in this devastating snowball effect.

I'll admit straight away that I liked this book against my better judgement.
Said judgement was purely based on emotional reasons, namely on the character of Riddle Border. If I had to choose a kid to adopt, this kid would be like him. His thoughts, his story, his drawings, the world seen through his eyes were the best part of the story for me and the main reason why I liked this book. I recommend you to read I'll Be There if only for Riddle.

When I look at it with my analytical skills though, there are various things which didn't convince me or didn't care for.

The first, is the writing style. To tell you the truth, it is pretty much in line with my first statement, that is that this is a fairy tale. Simple, concise, direct. But it unnerved me. I felt like the author was trying to talk to me like you would to a little kid, presenting facts in a linear order, making it simple for my simple mind. I am sure this might appeal to some people but I really didn't care much for it. Now, had the story been narrated from Riddle's point of view, it would have made sense. But for a third person omniscient, I felt like I was talked down to.

Second, Sam and Emily's story. You can call it heart-breaking, touching, whatever you want but the truth is that, like in fairy tales, it was insta-love and not even well developed, at that. I would have loved for the author to have written more scenes for them, to justify Emily's heartbreak or Sam's attraction.
Same goes for Emily's parents. What made them literally fall in love with the two kids? Was it only because Sam has a natural talent for the guitar?

Third. The I'll Be There theme. It was way, way, way, way too corny for me.

Finally, the villain. Well, there were two villains actually. Clarence Border is well portrayed and believable. He is a psycho and as the story unfolds, I really wanted him to burn in hell. He scared the crap out of me, but that means emotional involvement on my part and that is a good sign.
But what about Bobby Ellis? The more subtle villain? He is ok in the first part of the book, ok meaning I can understand his behavior. What happens to him on Prom Day was just downright childish though, like a deus ex machina taking revenge on him for his bad behavior.

So, if I consider how I feel towards this story, I can probably say this book succeeded in its effort: in the second part, it won me over and I felt my eyes getting misty. The story is sad, touching, heart-breaking if you will, and enjoyable all in all. Many will like it.
BUT keep in mind this is a FAIRY TALE, don't look for too many logical connections or overused clichés, let yourself be taken from the flow of emotions and you'll love it.

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Reading Progress

September 14, 2011 – Shelved
September 29, 2011 – Started Reading
September 30, 2011 –
page 192
48.98% "It's good but so far I am not connecting. WHY?"
September 30, 2011 –
page 322
82.14% "ok, I did shed half a tear."
October 1, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-23)




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message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Checking in for emotional support :)


Limonessa I'm on page 2.
So far I'm ok :D


message 21: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin I'm excited to see what you think... I bought this but haven't read it yet.


message 20: by Ari (last edited Oct 01, 2011 01:30PM) (new) - added it

Ari This sounds good, can't wait to read your review ;)


Wendy Darling Thanks for your review, Lisa--I sometimes have trouble with corny themes too, but I'm glad to hear the book ultimately won you over. Sounds like it's worth a go!


Limonessa This is the kind of book that, when you look at it, it looks back at you with puppy eyes.


message 17: by Jo (new) - added it

Jo Lisa O. wrote: "This is the kind of book that, when you look at it, it looks back at you with puppy eyes."

Haha, love this description Lisa.
I'm excited to read this... I don't mind cheesy :) Especially when there are cute kids involved!


Wendy Darling Oh! Just so long as I don't have to house train it in my review. ;)


message 15: by Maja (The Nocturnal Library) (last edited Oct 02, 2011 11:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) For a second there, I was worried that you'd left your analytical skills locked in a drawer somewhere. :)

Is there a Lisa O. fan club I can join?! Pfft, what am I saying?! Of course there is - I'm the president! :D


Limonessa Thanks sweetie, you always know how to flatter.
Did you know that the president of said fan club is supposed to give me a red velvet cake as a present?? ;D


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Haha, that I can do. It will be tasty AND pretty, I promise. Now be honest here, do you think this book is for me?!

The Sky Is Everywhere is going to my 'books that changed me' shelf. :D


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard I saw a review of this on ForeverYA and they liked it pretty much for Riddle. And I'm like "but love at first sight? really?"

Hmmm. It's still setting on my TBR list where I keep thinking about it.


Limonessa Maja wrote: "Haha, that I can do. It will be tasty AND pretty, I promise. Now be honest here, do you think this book is for me?!

The Sky Is Everywhere is going to my 'books that changed me' shelf. :D"


I think you probably would like it. The story is sweet.

About the Sky... really?! Are you done?? Did you get to scene where she goes to Joe's house?


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Really and no and no and I'm only about a third in and I keep staring at those illustrations and it's all making me insanely happy and thank you and you're awesome but you knew that already.

Whoa. That was exhausting.


Wendy Darling I just reread this review again. Can I tell you a secret that I whispered to Maja, Lisa?

(view spoiler)


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I have no choice but to agree with my fairy godmother because a)she knows all my secrets and she can blackmail me if I don't and b) she's right. :D


Limonessa Wendy Darling wrote: "I just reread this review again. Can I tell you a secret that I whispered to Maja, Lisa?

[spoilers removed]"


Thanks Wendy! I'm pretty sure you'll like this book too then.


message 6: by Roshini (new) - added it

Roshini I just had to say that I loved this line:

..something in the cosmic order of things shifts and their encounter will trigger a series of events which will change, once and for all, not only Sam, Riddle and Emily's lives profoundly but the lives of all people who will get caught in this devastating snowball effect.


Limonessa Wow, thanks!


Bradley Great review, this is pretty much exactly how I felt about it.


Julia Basically how I felt. I liked the characters and the layout and idea, but she should have elaborated more on how their attraction formed, etc. However, then the book would have been much too long. Still, I'd say it's pretty good.


Jennifer Would not recommend to my Middle School students, would recommend to High School Students.


message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Kelly The romance part of it was cheesy, yes. However I really thought it improved as the plot and theme started to go a little deeper. I loved the theme of how everyone has a story, and seeing the world through other people's eyes. The destiny theme may have been a little far-fetched, but it was interesting and made you think. I wasn't as critical, but I do agree with some of your points.


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