I’ll Be There
Holly Goldberg Sloan
Sam and Riddle have lived with their father for a long time. They are closely knit into one fabric, yet their father keeps tearing holes in it. When Sam sees Emily for the first time, about to throw up from a forced singing recital, something stirs in his heart for someone other than his brother.
Why did the book grab me? Well, Sam seemed pretty cool, and Clarence had something wrong with him that I could relate to. But then again, Emily. Ok, so Emily could have been a character to hate. She’s completely trusting, naive, no idea. And her parents? Well, you think that they could be a bit more chill. Everything is a bit see-through.
I guess that that could be to contrast Sam. Sam hides so many things, and yet at the same time, he doesn’t know that it’s ok to talk to some people. It’s made clear how this situation came about, but I find it difficult to believe that life was like that for a long time. Something I didn’t understand was why Sam was still with his father even though he was 17. I understand wanting to look after his brother. But really? Something should have twigged that there was something more seriously wrong with their father and that something might need to be done about it.
I’m not sure how I felt about Clarence. It’s easy to push him into the bad guy role, it’s true he’s not nice to his kids and he’s a thief, but he has other things going on. It sounded to me exactly like he had schizophrenia. And if he did, then he wasn’t in control of himself at all really. Who knows? He could have been nice if he had been on medication.
I would have loved to have seen more done with music. Being recognised as a genius doesn’t mean much unless you’re able to write music, performing is not enough in my opinion. It started off as a theme, and could have been used to link more of the text together.
There were some jolting parts for me, such as Riddle’s asthma. Sam didn’t know about it before. No-one knew about it before. But suddenly it becomes all-important. And funnily enough, it’s not Riddle’s fault that things are going to hell! He’s survived so long in his life so far, I don’t see what all the upset is about. Maybe it is to show his growing relationship with his ‘mother’.
I couldn’t decide if I liked the ending or not. I certainly felt all the feels while I was reading it. It seemed like the happily ever after would never come. But the simplicity of it urked me, even if that was entirely proving Emily’s point that everything happens for a reason.