I'll Be There
By Holly Goldberg Sloan
Little, Brown and Company, 2011. 392 pgs. Teen fiction
When Emily Bell's father makes her sing a solo of "I'll Be There" in church, it sets off a chain of events that changes her whole life. Emily doesn't have a good singing voice and doesn't want to sing the solo; during it, she focuses on the very back of the church, or more specifically, the boy sitting in the back of the church. Sam likes music and has attended church that day to hear the music. When an embarrassed Emily runs out after her performance, he follows. But their romance isn't easy, though in some ways it's completely simple. Sam's crazy criminal of a father has taken him and his unhealthy younger brother Riddle all over the country, stealing and lying everywhere he goes. Sam and Riddle are just trying to survive, and they've never connected with anyone before. That changes with Emily, but all too soon, their father creates problems that leave them fighting to stay alive.
This was a completely gripping story. I was so anxious, waiting to see how things would turn out for Sam, Riddle and Emily. I didn't necessarily care for the side story of Bobby Ellis, a boy who is obsessed with Emily, but I did appreciate the way the author did tie the details together. (So, Bobby was a necessary, if somewhat annoying, part of the story.) The writing style is sort of lyrical, lulling you in further and further as the chain of events unfold. It's a little bit different--but I liked it a lot.
4.5 stars. A very little bit of language.