Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I'll Be There

Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan

Publisher: Little, Brown

5 out of 5 stars

The hot and sweaty truck rattles on, as the town’s lights fade in the distance.  The sky turns from a coral pink to a deep purple as you keep on driving from somewhere you were just starting to call home.  Why is something you do so often, so hard this time?  This move isn’t any different from the rest.  Soon the town becomes nothing more than a speck on the horizon, but if you squint you can almost see everything you’re leaving behind.  The memories, the long days, and the people.  As soon as you open your eyes though, reality butts in.  You stare until it all disappears, and with it so does your life.  It’s time to start over.  Again.

Sam and Riddle Border are no strangers to change.  It’s about the only friend they’ve made, moving from city to city, as their criminal, psychotic father, Clarence, drags them along with him.  Living out of stolen cars, RV’s, and vacant, run-down buildings, Sam does all he can to make sure that he and Riddle survive.  They don’t go to school, but Sam and Riddle have had a different kind of schooling living on the streets.

Sam and Riddle only have each other, and that’s the way they’ve learned to survive.  Sam looks out for his little brother Riddle, because if he doesn’t, who else will?  But Sam learns that he and Riddle might not be all alone in the world after a chance encounter with a girl at a church.  The girl’s name is Emily Bell, and she believes that every chance encounter is meant to happen.  So what is meant to happen with Emily and Sam?  Is Sam about to get the break that he didn’t know he was even waiting for?  Holly Goldberg Sloan reveals all in her debut novel, about true connection between the most unlikely people in, I’ll Be There!

I’ll Be There captures the true essence of love and the bonds of family.  After meeting Emily, Sam and Riddle’s lives dip into a world that they have never known before.  Even against the odds Sloan’s characters manage to stay true to themselves.  With stark writing and extraordinary circumstances, Sloan has created a book that both boys and girls will find something they can enjoy.

The characters in I’ll Be There were some of the most genuine that I have ever met.  None of them are perfect, rather they are all flawed.  However, they never stop staying true to themselves and protecting what is important to them.  They all have solid values that they will never give up on.  Their beliefs are what drive them forward even when there’s nowhere left to go.  Despite all of their various connections, every character in I’ll Be There is still their own person.  Sam and Riddle may be brothers, but they couldn’t be more different.  Little things, such as Riddle’s obsessive nature with drawing the inner workings of things, or Sam’s caring disposition despite his seemingly secluded personality, make every character their own.  I can’t wait to read more about these guys in Sloan’s continuation of I’ll Be There.

Everyone is connected.  That’s what seventeen-year-old Emily Bell believes, and her idea seems to be true, especially as I’ll Be There progresses.  Whether it’s simply passing someone on the street or holding the door open for a stranger, you never know how that moment can change your life.  When Emily first meets Sam no one could have foreseen that such an unlikely relationship would form between the two of them.  Their destinies happened to intertwine simply without them realizing it.  Some may call it fate, but our actions affect others more than we know.  Told from multiple perspectives, it was interesting to see how simple actions could cause a domino effect, and have an impact on so much more than it would have seemed.  Every chapter was a puzzle piece coming together to form the big picture.

Sloan’s writing is both simple and complex.  She gets right down to the bottom of things by describing the characters’ emotions clearly and stating things exactly as they are.  In I’ll Be There Sloan strips things down to their bare form, and their natural beauty is breathtaking.  She pierces straight to the heart of things in a way that tugs at your emotions and gets you to really feel.  A word was never wasted throughout I’ll Be There, just as every single one of Sam’s actions was never for nothing.

I’ll Be There is extremely touching, and raw to the core.  Sloan manages to peel back the layers of her characters to reveal who they truly are underneath it all.  These characters shape their lives, and don’t let their circumstances dictate who they are.  Join Sam, Riddle, and Emily as they show each other everything that they’ve been missing out on in, I’ll Be There!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

My signed copy of I'll Be There from Bridge To Book's YA Rising Stars Event at Once Upon A Time Book Store!  Thanks so much Bridge To Books and Holly Goldberg Sloan!

Check out Holly Goldberg Sloan's website at www.hollygoldbergsloan.com.


  1. I've had this one sitting on my shelf for a while. I just haven't had a chance to get to it. Your review reminds me of why I bought it in the first place. Good to know there will be a sequel. Great review. Glad to see you blogging again!!


  2. This sounds amazing...something to read on a rainy summer weekend or evening it seems. Great find TB!

  3. Wonderful, well thought through review! I read this book last year and pretty much had the same feelings as you - it was amazing. It may be time for a re-read! :)

    New to your blog! :)
    Steph @ Stepping Out of the Page


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