Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

[description from goodreads]

Sam Border wishes he could escape. Raised by an unstable father, he's spent his life moving from place to place. But he could never abandon his little brother, Riddle.

Riddle Border doesn't talk much. Instead, he draws pictures of the insides of things and waits for the day when the outsides of things will make sense. He worships his older brother. But how can they leave when there's nowhere to go? Then everything changes. Because Sam meets Emily.

Emily Bell believes in destiny. She sings for her church choir, though she doesn't have a particularly good voice. Nothing, she feels, is mere coincidence. And she's singing at the moment she first sees Sam.

Everyone whose path you cross in life has the power to change you--sometimes in small ways, and sometimes in ways greater than you could have ever known. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, Holly Goldberg Sloan's debut novel deftly explores the idea of human connection.

My interest in this novel initially stemmed from the absolute rave reviews I had read both on the back cover and from blogs I follow; however, such positive reviews always make me nervous. But, while I was waiting to pick this one up, I found out that the author wrote (and in the case of the latter, directed) the movies Angels in the Outfield and The Big Green, two of my favorite childhood movies. I knew that I was destined to love this book solely on that fact, and I am happy to report that my prediction was correct.

I was nervous to read this one not only because everyone else seemed to love it, but also because I had no idea what it was even about. The summary does not give a hint to much of anything that goes on in this book beyond the fact that the three leads, Sam, Riddle, and Emily, meet and change each others' lives. That's pretty broad, so I really had no idea what I was getting myself into and how they would change each other. And I'm so, so thankful for that. Because I didn't know what to expect, everything was a surprise. I was always excited to see where the three main characters were going; because the lives of Sam and Riddle have always been random and just-go-with-it, they could have taken this book anywhere. Some of the things that happened were so unexpected, and yet they all made sense within the context of the situation and made me want to drop everything to keep reading.

Even the things that were a bit expected were fantastic because of the characters. Sam, Riddle, and Emily have a relationship that's immediately intense, but as they all grow closer, it becomes even stronger. I loved seeing them even just spending time with each other, because although this book does not have much dialogue, it was so easy to see what each of them was thinking and feeling about what was going on. The writing does an amazing job of portraying even the most vile characters' feelings and thoughts in a way that is almost beautiful and brings the characters to life. The point-of-view also happily switches a lot, which gives everyone a chance to have their stories heard, even if they do seem to be overshadowed on occasion by the insanely lovable Sam and adorable Riddle.

A compelling story line, lyrical writing, fantastically developed characters...I'm not sure that I'll Be There is missing anything. I can only hope you think the same if you read it.

Book details: Little, Brown/Hardcover/$17.99

Source: bought


  1. YAY! I'm glad you liked this one too, I didn't have much idea of the plot when I started it either :P

  2. I haven't read this one yet but I've heard so many good reviews! I'm glad to hear it lived up to the hype for you.

  3. I reeeeally wanna read this one. Thanks for the awesome review!

  4. Are you kidding me!?! THE BIG GREEN!!! One of my faves. I want to read this even more now :) I bought a copy after reading some other rave reviews, I need to push it further up the pile.

  5. I've owned this book for like a year now but haven't finished it for whatever reason. Thank you for reminding me! I know what I'm going to do today.