Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Sam has spent most of his life looking out for his younger brother Riddle.  Raised by a father more interested in taking advantage of people and getting whatever he wants illegally, meant that Sam and Riddle were shuffled from one place to the next. 

Their contact with people living normal lives was severely limited.  Using the excuse that he homeschooled his children allowed their father to keep them isolated.  But it was more than mere isolation since the two boys were not only forced to stay indoors during the day to avoid being reported for truancy, but were also left on their own to scavenge for food in restaurant dumpsters. 

Sam developed a strong sense of responsibility for Riddle and suffered abuse at the hands of his father as he tried to protect his young brother.  Riddle withdrew, and instead of talking, communicated through mechanically technical drawings made on the pages of old telephone books.  Neither boy realized their lives could be better.

Sam's path crossed with Emily's because of his love of music.  He slipped into the back pew of her family's church on the Sunday she was to sing a solo.  Being in the choir was fine with Emily, but singing a solo terrified her.  Her voice wasn't exactly remarkable, and after her debut, she rushed from the church into a back alley.  Sam was drawn to follow her.  Something about her vulnerability made him offer comfort as she vomited behind the church.

What follows is a story filled with remarkable connections.  Beautifully told by first time novelist Holly Goldberg Sloan, I'LL BE THERE is a fantastic story.  Readers will immediately bond with Sam, Riddle, and Emily as their story unfolds.  Intense emotions, heartbreaking twists and turns, and the perfect amount of tension-breaking humor combine to make this one of the best books I've had the pleasure to read.    

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