This one is going to get the middle school girls all a-flutter. Whew.
I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan is star-crossed lovers and magical and funny and wonderful. The story is told from multiple points-of-view: Emily Bell and Sam Border, the main characters, Sam’s brother, Riddle, Emily’s parents, Sam’s dad, Emily’s brother, even a bear gets into the narration for a moment. All their stories weave together so that you feel you know each character well and that can see, with most of them, their struggles and heart.
The story starts with Emily being forced to sing a solo by her father who is the music director at their church. And she’s bad. As she’s butchering her song, Sam wonders in from the street to listen and once their eyes lock, there is no denying the connection they have. But Emily comes from a pretty normal, upper-middle class family and Sam comes from secrets and abuse and running from the law. So Sam and Emily have to be careful, even if Emily doesn’t really understand what she’s being careful of. And that “of” is Sam’s paranoid, mentally unbalanced, and wanted father, Clarence. Once Sam starts bringing his little brother, Riddle, around the Bell house, the whole family falls in love with these two odd and mysterious boys.
Things seems to be going great until Clarence figures out that Sam has met a girl and then everything goes downhill fast. Taking the boys hostage in the middle of the night, he plans to get lost all over again so that he can continue to control the boys and his destiny. What happens when Clarence flees is a brilliant ride that Goldberg Sloan takes the reader on. And I loved every second of it.
Know a middle or high school girl that loves a little YA love story?? Or how about a grown woman who loves to pretend she’s in high school every time she picks up a young adult book? I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan one would be a good fit for those readers. Especially by the pool this summer.
(Side note: I didn’t realize until I was looking up information in hopes that she’d written a sequel that this is the same author of Counting by 7’s one of my favorite read-alouds from school last year! Now I’m really in love with this author.)