Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I'll Be There

Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Info: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, copyright 2011, 392 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts):  Some people are bad, some families dysfunctional, some lives destroyed.  But the right person can help you save yourself.

Sam Border wishes he could escape, but there's nowhere for him to run.  He and his little brother, Riddle, have spent their entire lives constantly uprooted by their unstable father.  That is, until Same sees Emily.  That's when everything changes.

As Sam and Riddle are welcomed into the Bells' lives, they witness the warmth and protection of a family for the first time.  But when tragedy strikes, they're left fighting for survival in the desolate wilderness, and wondering if they'll ever find a place where they can belong.

~Goodreads Description

This was a book club assignment, and thank goodness for that.  I would have never have found this particular title on my own.  And for readers of contemporary fiction and stories that tug at the heartstrings, this is a must-read.

Sam learned at a very young age not to get attached to anything or anyone.  He lives a life on the road, drifting like a leaf in the wind, blown around by the whims of his convict father.  Sam's only tie to the world, to hope, is his younger brother Riddle.  But then one day Sam wanders into a church and sees a girl.  Not just any girl.  Emily, the girl who sees into his soul.  Now Sam has a reason to stay and desperately wants a new life with Riddle, away from his father.

Sloan writes in a very bare-bones kind of way.  There's not a lot of description.  Not a lot of touchy-feely sentiment.  The story is gritty and real.  She's a screenwriter, and that definitely shines through.  And I think that's what I really liked about the book.  There were a few overly-dramatic moments, but for the most part, there was no angst.  There was real feeling and real confusion set in a sad yet hopeful world.  Sam's father Clarence is the worst example of a parent, but the story is balanced by Tim and Debbie Bell. It's always refreshing to find parents who act like decent parents.

And Emily is never swoon-y.  She's interested and infatuated, but she keeps a level head.  There's no over-reacting.  There's life, moving forward, despite some really bad stuff.

So I liked it.  I really liked it, and there's a very good chance I'm going to read the sequel.  I'm not really sure if it needs a sequel, it stands alone very well, but I wouldn't mind seeing what happens next.  The only reason I wouldn't read it is because I'll forget.  Just speaking truth :)


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