Thursday 3 May 2012
I'll Be There - Holly Goldberg Sloan
I’ll Be There – Holly Goldberg Sloan
Pages: 312 (ARC)
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Release Date: 4th April 2012
Where there is love, I’ll be there.
Raised by an unstable father who keeps the family constantly on the move, Sam Border hasn’t been inside a classroom since he was eight. He’s always been the rock for his younger brother Riddle, who stopped speaking long ago and instead makes sense of the world through his drawings. Then, Sam meets Emily Bell, and everything changes. The two share an immediate and intense attraction, and soon Sam and Riddle find themselves welcomed into the Bell’s home. But Sam knows his happiness is too good to last...
Told from multiple perspectives, Holly Goldberg Sloan’s debut novel offers readers romance and a gripping story. I’ll Be There is a story about connections big and small, and deftly explores the many ways that lives are woven together.
I’ll Be There was not at all what I expected; it thoroughly surprised me.
I was expecting what the synopsis promised: a traditional, deeply romantic contemporary YA novel with dashes of family drama and hints of social pressure. Instead I got lots of unexpected issues moulded into the characters, largely mental health problems and maybe more subtly, prejudice, but more than anything, I’ll Be There was about the invisible connections and ties that people are joined by. It was kind of fascinating how the events snowballed from a single split-second decision by one person and ended in lots and lots of drama. I do think that this theme was taken a little too far with the ending, however. It was too perfect for me; everyone got their just desserts and it all ended how you would want it to end, and I just don't think it would have worked out like that in real life.
The sense of destiny, I guess, was brilliantly replicated with the narrative style of I’ll Be There. Holly Goldberg Sloan writes in an omniscient third person voice that allows the reader a glimpse into every character’s viewpoint and situation. I especially loved the glance into Riddle’s mind in throughout the novel – the way he thinks and the way he sees the world is kind of beautiful, actually. It was also really interesting to see just how much knowledge that I would take for granted that Sam hasn’t learnt from moving around and not going to school, especially when he is getting to know Emily in the beginning of the novel.
This may be connected to what I was expecting from I’ll Be There and didn't really get, but I didn’t feel the relationship between Sam and Emily. I saw in Sam’s thoughts after the incident and the way thoughts of her brought him back and in Emily’s grief and closing herself off from the world, but I didn't think that there was enough before the...incident (I’m trying to be spoiler free!) for me to properly gage their feelings for each other, though I was most definitely hoping that they would be reunited by the end of I’ll Be There.
Holly Goldberg Sloan took I’ll Be There from a contemporary romance to an edge-of-the-seat thriller that’ll make you wonder if you’ve ever been unknowingly part of a chain of events that changed so many lives.
For my 2012 Debut Author Challenge and 2012 Contemporary YA Challenge