The first ARC from ALA is read and done: I’LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan.
Wow. This was exactly the book I wanted to read. I hadn’t heard anything about it, didn’t have a single expectation. In fact, it was the one review copy I picked up at ALA that didn’t even have a real cover. It looks as though it is wrapped in a plain brown sheet of paper. (And no cover images are available online as far as I can tell.) There is no jacket blurb or any kind of description of the story at all.
I was captured right from the start.
This is the story of two boys, Sam and Riddle, raising themselves because their mentally ill father can’t. It’s about what happens when you connect with people. And how we are all connected and how the choices we make send ripples out across the world. It made me think about fate and destiny and karma. But mostly it’s about love. All kinds of love.
The writing in this story is simple and clear and brilliant. Told from a third person omniscient point of view, stepping into the lives of different people who meet Sam and Riddle; each and every character has depth and an interior life and history that goes on before and after their appearance in this story. I felt like I knew these characters even when they only appeared for a page or two.
Apparently Holly Goldberg Sloan has worked in films as a writer, director and producer – and that shows. This is survival story – both emotionally and physically. The plot – especially when Sam and Riddle are forced to leave the one place they’ve felt like they belong and end up in the wilderness – has cinematic potential. All along there is sweet romance and heartbreak, tension and danger and slapstick comedy. So I could see this as a movie, except that the very best most exquisite thing about this book is its emotional core. And I don’t think a movie has a chance of touching my heart the same way.
I’d love to put an excerpt here but since it’s a review copy, I can’t.
But I must say put this one on your list.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK