Wednesday, 28 September 2011

review: I'll Be There

by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Little, Brown & Co., 2011
contemporary young adult

Seventeen-year-old Sam has been taking care of his younger brother Riddle ever since their criminal father took them on the run. He's got no experience with people, so when he meets the soloist in a church choir, he doesn't know what to make of the instant connection. Emily feels it, too, and with her encouragement, their relationship blooms. But Sam and Riddle can't keep their unstable father at bay forever, even though being torn away from the safe new world they've discovered may be the most heartwrenching thing they'll go through.
The cover:

Perfect. The artwork is eloquence itself and, better yet, represents the tender tone of the novel. he way the title text is spaced and sized is lovely, too; it's obvious real heart went into this cover.

The book:

This book is magical.

After reading Audrey's gushing, I picked this up with high expectations... then put it back down. The first few pages were a little too slow. But oh my holy mother of grandchildren, I'm glad I started it again.

The characters are alive. I swear. Sam in all his watchful handsomeness (he seriously makes me just go oohhh *sigh*) and love for Riddle, whose mechanical drawings, survival and cooking skills have earned him an entire shelf in my heart. And Emily, a girl exactly like you; someone who's found something so profound it'll ruin her if it's taken away. Even Bobby Ellis is so vapidly shallow and yet so necessary that when his downfall comes, you're grinning with glee at all his misfortune.

The summary says I'll Be There is about human connection. And by God, it is: connections and relationships so out of the ordinary, so beautiful I started tingling all over. (I truly did -- it was a totally shocking sensation.) The entire plot is woven out of connections, and when you pair that with Holly Goldberg Sloan's effortless prose, you get a book that makes waves.

Right now, the only issue I can think of is that Sam and Riddle get injured multiple times and somehow survive for weeks in the wilderness. Otherwise, everything in I'll Be There feels so right: Emily's mom's relationship with Riddle; the ending for Hiro Yamada of Medford Coin (possibly my favourite subplot of the book); the way Sam and Emily finally meet each other again. Their love is the kind I can really, genuinely picture growing old in eternity.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5