Grade: 4 stars out of 5
Raised by an unstable father who keeps the family constantly on the move, Sam Border hasn't been in a classroom since the second grade. He's always been the rock for his younger brother Riddle, who stopped speaking long ago and instead makes sense of the world through his strange and intricate drawings. It's said that the two boys speak with one voice--and that voice is Sam's.I’m at a lost of words when trying to describe I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan without spoiling the entire novel. After finding out that Sloan is a screenwriter, I was able to imagine I’ll Be There as the movie I would have gone out to see. With its strong opening of gospel music and the happily ever after ending, I I’ll Be There starts off the new year with a bang.
Then, Sam meets Emily Bell, and everything changes. The two share an immediate and intense attraction, and soon Sam and Riddle find themselves welcomed into the Bell's home. Faced with normalcy for the first time, they know it's too good to last.
Firstly, let’s get rid of the unpleasantness out of the way. I’ll Be There is a novel not suited for everyone. It had a much faster pace than what I’m accustomed to. The first love instant connection was a stretch that was not followed up on as much I would have liked. I’ll Be There took some time to warm into, but after the initial couple of chapters the book was hard to put down.
The fluidity of the novel could only be compared to the strength of the characters. Sam and Emily come alive and come across as real people. Their relationship with their family and the social environment is touching, a bit dramatic in Emily’s case, and made the entire novel spectacular. Bobby was the perfect villain with equal parts charismatic, dastardly, and insanity. Bobby was a truly frightening character with power at his fingertips. However, fate acts in the most strangest of ways.
I’ll Be There is for those willing to step out of the perfect box. For those who believe in coincidence in the most oddest, but amazing of ways. Told through multiple perspective, even a bear's!, I’ll Be There will bring a smile to your face.
Source: Bound manuscript from HipScout [Little, Brown and Company]
Published: 3, May 2011