Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I'll Be There

I'll Be There
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
From the publisher:
"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."

I was obsessed with this book once I got into it and could not put it down. The writing seemed a little bit off at the beginning, but once I got sucked into the story I didn't care, and now I can't even remember why the writing bothered me at the beginning. And, I might add, I have had the song I'll Be There stuck in my head for 2 days now. Luckily it's a great song! I think it is very cool that it plays an integral part in the story and wasn't just a random title for the book.

This is one of those books that has it all. Pathos, romance, humor, wilderness survival, high school drama and spine-tingling suspense. My feelings were all over the place with this one. My heart broke for Sam and Riddle on just about every page. I was so furious with their father that I desperately wanted a fatal accident to befall him. I wanted to hug Tom and Debbie Bell for their kind and wise parenting. I was very nervous about the oily Bobby Ellis, yet he made me laugh over and over again. (Kind of envisioning a Carrieprom king scene for a brief moment.) 

One thing I loved about this book is that it begins with a story about how everything is connected and how minor incidents can change the course of major life events. Then the book ends with different paragraphs about very secondary characters and how their lives were changed by the minor interactions they had with our main characters. That was really interesting. It makes you think about what minor incidents have changed the course of your own life. 

My one drawback was that there were very few instances where we were able to see Sam and Emily's connection. We were told there was a deep connection, but had very little to go on to see that for ourselves. However, that was a minor quibble. I definitely recommend this book and I think it will have a huge readership at our library. 

Areas of concern: (This was a really clean read for a young adult novel with intense situations. I was impressed.)
*About 4 or 5 uses of the *d* word. 
*An incredibly abusive and neglectful father.
*Intense survival scenes.
*Talk of going to the Motel 6 after prom, but the main character leaves after this is mentioned.
*A few mild kisses.
*A best friend tells the main character that she needs to hook up with a guy.
*A stalker who ingratiates himself into the main character's life.

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 7+
(Booklist puts this one at grades 9-12.  There are definitely intense situations, so sensitive middle schoolers may need to stay away from it.)

No comments:

Post a Comment