Sam Border wishes he could escape, but there's nowhere for him to run. Read more...
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 by their unstable father. That is, until Sam sees Emily. That's when everything changes.
As Sam and Riddle are welcomed into the Bells' lives, they witness the warmth and protection of a family for the first time. But when tragedy strikes, they're left fighting for survival in the desolate wilderness, and wondering if they'll ever find a place where they can belong. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, "I'll Be There" is a gripping story that explores the complexities of teenage passions, friendships, and loyalties.
- ISBN-13: 9780316122795
- ISBN-10: 0316122793
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: May 2011
- Page Count: 392
- Reading Level: Ages 13-17
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-04-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Screenwriter and director Sloan delivers a cinematic, psychologically nuanced first novel of star-crossed love and the power of human empathy and connection. Sloan excels at crafting memorable characters and relationships, from the central, transformative romance between 17-year-olds Sam and Emily, who meet after her disastrous church solo, to finely sketched cameos. Sam and his sensitive, possibly autistic younger brother, Riddle, live an isolated and itinerant existence, subject to the whims of their violent and deranged father, Clarence. Tension escalates as Emily's family becomes attached to the boys, growing concerned for their well-being, and an unstable Clarence takes off with his sons once again. It's agonizing but thrilling reading as Sam and Emily try to surmount the many obstacles Sloan throws at them. Her skills as a writer are never in doubt, though the story can at times feel melodramatic, especially as it turns into a survivalist epic, and a plot thread about a classmate enamored with Emily devolves into slapstick. But Emily and Sam's romance is that of the against-all-odds, meant-to-be variety, and while the ending is too perfect, it is unquestionably earned. Ages 12–up. (May)
The interconnection of life
The course of true love, as Shakespeare wrote, never did run smooth, and nowhere is that truth more apparent than in Holly Goldberg Sloan’s debut novel, I’ll Be There. From the moment Emily—wracked with nerves while (badly) singing a solo at church—spots a scruffy but undeniably handsome boy in the back pew, her heart is his. And Sam, quiet and mysterious though he is, seems to really like her, too.
Sam and his near-mute little brother, Riddle, are taken aback by the generosity, kindness and normality of Emily’s family. After all, the only lessons they’ve learned on the road with their violent, thieving father are, according to Sam, “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.” The two boys have learned to keep secrets, stay out of the way and look after each other. So when they’re forced to go on the move again, can Sam find his way back into a normal life—and real love?
Holly Goldberg Sloan might be a first-time novelist, but she’s an experienced writer and director of many popular family films. No surprise, then, that I’ll Be There has a cinematic feeling, rapidly shifting setting and perspective in a free indirect style that helps reinforce the novel’s themes of interconnection. Are coincidences meaningful? What motivates people to help others, become friends, fall in love? Can those who have been deeply damaged seize a fresh start? Emily and Sam’s journey is a rocky one—literally so, for Sam—but it’s also romantic, heartfelt and deeply satisfying.