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Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'll Be There, written by Holly Goldberg Sloan. Little, Brown & Co., Hachette Book Group. 2011. $19.99 ages 12 and up

"So while Clarence didn't feed his kids, had never let them go to school, and had ripped them from their mother's mortgaged-for-more-than-it-was-worth home while he had robbed his way crisscrossing states for ten years - he made sure to shave every morning and keep himself neat and tidy."

I was terrified of Clarence from the moment I met him, and it made reading this book very difficult at times. But as much as I disliked him and what he did to the boys who were his sons, I LOVED Sam and Riddle with all I had in me! There are two boys who will remain in my heart. That is true of most of the characters that Holly Goldberg Sloan has brought to life in her DEBUT novel. Unbelievable!!!

I have rarely read a book that I loved more than this, and it will certainly find a place on my 'to be kept forever' shelf. The pages are marked with many post-its to remind me to go back and read passages again and again. Clarence is ill (obviously) but it didn't make me like him. The way he lives his life and treats his sons makes me unrepentant in my feelings for him. Sam and Riddle spend their days fending for themselves; foraging for food, keeping to themselves so that no one will notice anything strange about them, making no friends, and always on the move from state to state. When Clarence feels that anyone is getting to close, they are off again. But they are together and they are awesome:

"Sam knew that, if it weren't for his little brother, he'd have been even more damaged, even more messed up, than he already was. Riddle had given his life purpose. And Sam would always, no matter what happened, not just protect his little brother but try to think of him first.
And so Sam kept his hands to himself, off the steering wheel and off his father's neck."

Sam's love of music takes him to a church where Emily Bell is singing...and that moment sets them on a path that rarely slows, and is always headed toward disaster. That encounter is the first of many that kept me reading. No matter what happens today it leads to something new tomorrow. Readers get a constantly changing perspective from each of the cast of amazing and significant characters, go to places that are warm and lovely, and cold and menacing. It is the connections that intensify the emotions felt as the twists and turns break your heart and then soothe you. Thank goodness for some humor, and for Felix.

It is a story about family...the good and the bad. It is about relationships, music, caring deeply and being lucky. Be sure to go the author's website... and read about the book and listen to the playlists that she has created for her characters....they are just great.

There are so many coincidences that I want to tell you about, but I won't. I will let this marvellous first time author tell you the story. You need to have this book! It's my favorite in a long time...and I read great books all the time. This one has that something special.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Sal. You reveiw so many wonderful books that I have a hard time keeping up. Adding this one to my list. Thanks. :)