I'll Be There

Paperback | June 12, 2012

byHolly Goldberg Sloan

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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 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 Thereis a gripping story that explores the complexities of teenage passions, friendships, and loyalties.

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From the Publisher

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 th...

Holly Goldberg Sloan is the author of the acclaimedI'll Be ThereandCounting by 7s, and has written anddirected a number of successful family feature films. She was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spent her childhood living in California; the Netherlands; Istanbul; Washington, DC; and Oregon. The mother of two sons, Holly lives with he...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.25 inPublished:June 12, 2012Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0316122769

ISBN - 13:9780316122764

Customer Reviews of I'll Be There

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from scenes strung together... Holly Goldberg Sloan is a screenwriter/director (Angels in the Outfield, Made in America) and maybe that’s the problem with her debut novel, I’ll Be There. It’s the story of Emily and Sam who lock eyes in a church where Emily is singing, badly, her first solo, The Jackson Five’s hit I’ll Be There. Emily is the daughter of Tim, a music professor, and Debbie, an ER nurse. Her younger brother is Jared. She leads a nice life. She believes in order and destiny. " Emily’s interest in personal histories made her accessible to people’s deepest emotions. It was as if she had some kind of magnet that pulled at someone’s soul, often when he or she least expected it. And that same magnet, which had to have been shaped like a horseshoe, allowed someone to look at her and feel the need to share a burden. Hers was a gift that didn’t have a name. Even she didn’t understand what it all meant. Emily just knew that the grocery store clerk’s cousin had slipped on a bathmat and fallen out a second-story window only to be saved because the woman landed on a discarded mattress. But what interested Emily the most about the incident was how the cousin had subsequently met a man in physical therapy who introduced her to his half brother who she ended up marrying and then running over with her car a year later after a heated argument. And that man, it was discovered, had been the one to dump the mattress in her yard. He’d saved her so that she could later cripple him. Emily found that not ironic but intriguing. Because everything, she believed, was connected." I quote this passage because it’s a great example of how Sloan’s omnipotent narrator does the work for the reader. This character is like this; here is a story to illustrate that. Sam is the son of Clarence, a psychotic criminal. Sam’s brother, Riddle, is somewhere on the autism spectrum. He is also plagued with constant colds. Sam and Riddle have been on the run with their father for the last ten years. They sleep in their truck or in run-down houses. Sam looks after Riddle as best he can. They don’t go to school; they don’t eat properly. Everything they know they’ve learned from books they’ve found. Riddle is artistic. He draws intricate mechanical drawings in a phone book. Sam is a self-taught musical genius. He’s also beautiful, selfless and perfect. So, Emily and Sam’s eyes meet and that sets off a chain of events which propels the novel forward. Not everyone gets what Emily sees in Sam. Yes, he’s good-looking and polite, but he’s not forthcoming with details about his life and that’s worrying to Emily’s parents. Until Tim hears Sam play the guitar and then all bets are off. Suddenly Sam and Riddle are pulled into the Bell’s warm and welcoming circle and it’s unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. So, clearly, it can’t last. There are reasons to like I’ll Be there. Riddle is a terrific character and the relationship between the brothers is lovely. The narrative moves along quickly, perhaps because it’s written in short little scenes. But that happens to be one of the book’s weaknesses for me. The omniscient narrator doesn’t take the trouble to develop any one character particularly well. The novel is like a bunch of soundbites strung together. Worse, even minor characters (the hairdresser who cuts Sam’s hair; an old lady who finds Clarence’s stash of stolen goods; the guy who buys his stolen penny collection) get their moment in the sun. Do I really need to know how their stories pan out? I guess I do if I want to wholeheartedly buy into Ms. Sloan’s over-arching theme of destiny. The tone of the novel is off-kilter for me, too. It careens from swoony romanticism to lives-in-peril to slap-stick comedy. Will young adults enjoy this novel? Probably. It’s easy to read and Sloan does most of the work for you – right down to putting white hats on the heroes and tying the whole thing with a pink bow. Oh, wait, that’s just destiny.
Date published: 2012-08-23

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Editorial Reviews

"Sloan delivers a cinematic, psychologically nuanced first novel...[and] excels at crafting memorable characters and relationships."-Publishers Weekly