Sam Smith and Emily Bell come from two different worlds: 17 year old Sam has spent his life drifting from state to state with his paranoid schizophrenic father, Clarence, and his autistic, asthmatic younger brother, Riddle. They live outside the system, squatting in abandoned homes, preying on the gullible, and clearing out quick whenever the voices Clarence’s head tell him to run, or worse, the law comes looking. Pretty, shy Emily lives in a comfortable suburban home with her caring and well-meaning parents, her somewhat annoying little brother, and the family dog. But both Sam and Emily long for a deep connection to another person and an understanding that goes beyond the what’s on the surface.
As unlikely as it may be, Sam and Emily find each other. Their blossoming romance faces numerous obstacles from the beginning since Clarence’s life of crime, his paranoia, and Sam’s existence outside normal society throw up numerous roadblocks to having a relationship, yet both Sam and Emily are drawn to each other. When Clarence discovers Sam’s “treachery,” he takes the boys on a wild, near death jaunt that leaves them lost and injured in a canyon somewhere in the wild. Emily slips into despair with Sam’s sudden, unexplained disappearance and struggles to cope when she and her family receive the news of his seemed death.
Holly Goldberg Sloan’s I’ll Be There is a carefully crafted story about people who feel deeply disconnected from life discovering that they can find the will to survive, hope, and love by allowing themselves to connect to and depend on another person. Sam’s tortured existence and Emily’s idealistic naiveté, combined with their shared introversion, made parts of I’ll Be There exasperating for me. Whether intentional or not, the relationship in I’ll Be There that really captured my heart was between Sam and his brother, Riddle, which is deep, heartfelt and absorbing. Despite a few hiccups along the way, eventually I was relieved that every story in this book got the ending it deserves.
Posted by Cori