November 23, 2011

Book Review: I'll Be There

This is the first year since 2006 that I've been in the States for Thanksgiving, and I find myself grateful for a lot of things. For my family, who believes I'm capable of greatness even on the days when I refuse to change out of pajamas. I'm thankful for the collection of close friends and confidants who have urged me to keep on writing stories. I'm thankful that I have a place to live, good food to eat, and an individual espresso maker.

And, this week, I'm thankful for I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Genre: YA, I suppose (although I only think it falls under that umbrella because it has several young people in it)
In a nutshell: beautiful, gripping, thoughtful, and heart warming. 

First of all, look at this cover... I think it's the best one I've seen in years. If I could ask this cover out on a date, I'd think about it.

I don't often say I'm "thankful" to have discovered a particular book, but this one is very special. It is about two brothers who have nothing to cling to in life but each other until they move into a small town where a chance meeting changes the course of their lives. Sam, the oldest brother, goes into a church to hear some good music only to hear Emily singing terribly, so nervous that she latches onto his face in the back of the crowd to get through it. This is very much a story about connection: what happens when we reach out and touch each other's lives, even in seemingly small ways.

This is one of those rare reads that I am desperately trying to get everyone I know to read. It is so, so lovely and heartwarming despite its moments of terrible sadness. It made me cry, and it made me laugh loud enough to wake people. It made me so, so anxious to know what happens that I stayed up to some unacceptable hour to finish it. But I didn't want it to end, either. The relationship between the two brothers, Sam and Riddle, is touching and haunting. In fact every relationship in this book is pretty lovely to discover. The book has us skipping between all the character's thoughts, so we get to have access to pretty much every important perspective. The young voices are crafted so thoughtfully and so believably. And although there are things that made me angry and upset, I never found this story depressing. There is so much that is uplifting in it, and the sad moments only make those richer.

I know I haven't really told you what this book is about. I don't want to ruin it: you should get to experience it for yourself, and I highly recommend that you do. 

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