I'll Be There
I'll Be There

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Annotation: Raised by an unstable father, Sam is the voice of his silent younger brother, Riddle, but when Sam meets Emily he is welcomed by her family, and the brothers experience normalcy for the first time.
Catalog Number: #66580
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition Date: 2012
Pages: 392 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-12276-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-58150-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-12276-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-58150-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2010042994
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
A naturally gifted musician, Sam and his younger, possibly autistic brother, Riddle, have been raised apart from society by their criminally insane father, Clarence, who constantly moves the boys from town to town, always one step ahead of the law. But when Sam meets Emily and a tentative friendship begins, the always unstable Clarence goes berserk and, taking the boys deep into the heart of a national forest, attempts to kill them. The boys escape, but Sam is injured in the process, and a harrowing survival story begins. Sloan's novel is an exercise in excess, which is both good and bad news. Sam and Riddle are wonderfully appealing characters that readers will root for, but the story is occasionally over the top and misanthropic in tone, with too many characters that range from fatuous to grotesque. Still, this is a highly suspenseful read with a dynamic, cinematic quality that keeps the pages turning to the satisfying conclusion.
Horn Book
Emily has a comfortable life with her middle-class parents; Sam and his younger brother are abused by their mentally unstable father. Regardless of circumstance, Emily and Sam feel an instant connection. Aided by a clipped, matter-of-fact narrative style, the novel flies by through multiple perspectives. The chorus of voices contributes to this life-affirming exploration of the subtleties of love, compassion, and relationships.
Kirkus Reviews
Making a connection to a person can be the scariest thing that ever happens to you." This truth hits especially hard now that Sam Border, currently known as Sam Smith, has met Emily Bell. Sam has never known many people. His father took Sam and his younger brother Riddle away from home when they were little, never to see their mother again, and ever since they've lived a life on the run. Clarence Border, their father, is a born liar and a cruel and abusive man, and Sam has taken on the role of protector of Riddle, who seems to be autistic. Mr. Bell, a music professor, discovers Sam's gifts as a musician and Riddle's skill at drawing, talents that become important to the tale. Sloan, a film writer and director (Angels in the Outfield and Made in America), has fashioned a cast of memorable characters with compelling stories and relationships, but, curiously, has neglected a basic scriptwriter's tool, dialogue, in her debut young adult novel. Too often, she violates the old writing teacher's advice: Show, don't tell. Too much explaining, too much going on, an overreliance on incomplete sentences and an unwieldy accumulation of subplots undermine a good story. (Fiction. 12 & up)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 7 Up&12; Seventeen-year-old Sam's and 10-year-old Riddle's lives have never been normal. Because of their abusive father's bad habit&12;stealing&12;they are always on the run. Sam stumbles into church wearing his cleanest dirty clothes on the day that Emily Bell sings "I'll Be There" by the Jackson Five. He can't help but feel that she is singing directly to him, and the two make a connection that later will change both of their lives. Because of many coincidences, the two eventually meet again and the relationship blossoms, but not without some hindrances. Sam's father commits a series of crimes, and he forces the boys to hit the road with him again. The brothers end up escaping their father's grip and get separated, and readers will flip pages frantically to find out if they are reunited with one another and with Emily's family. Sloan illustrates how we are all connected in big and small, positive and negative ways. Any reader who has ever questioned whether even the smallest gesture of kindness can make a difference will appreciate this book. Even though there are many characters and the scene is constantly changing, this riveting story will keep readers interested and guessing until the end.&12; Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI
Word Count: 84,621
Reading Level: 5.6
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.6 / points: 13.0 / quiz: 144050 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.3 / points:20.0 / quiz:Q53916
Lexile: 810L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y
Emily Bell believes in destiny. To her, being forced to sing a solo in the church choir--despite her average voice--is fate: because it's while she's singing that she first sees Sam. At first sight, they are connected.

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 Sam 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. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I'll Be There is a gripping story that explores the complexities of teenage passions, friendships, and loyalties.

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