Sam doesn’t remember too much from before his dad took him and his little brother away from home for a life on the run. He just knows that it’s important that he not attract attention to himself when he goes out. But when he makes a connection with Emily, he suddenly doesn’t want to be anonymous anymore. Soon Sam and his younger brother Riddle are interacting with other people for the first time in 10 years. Even though they know it won’t be long before their father moves them along again, they want to stay and find out what normal life is like.
From the opening lines of I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan I was hooked on Sam Border’s story. Which is why I found myself wanting to race through this story even though it’s not the kind of book you would expect to be a pageturner.
Sam has learned to cope with his dad’s mental illness and angry outbursts, and he fiercely takes care of Riddle, who has always had health problems. The mom in me ached to see these two boys rescued from their situation.
And Emily’s relationship with Sam is touching. She knows he’s different, but she would never guess the reason why. And when her whole family becomes interested in the two boys, she can’t imagine the consequences that will result for all of them. Indeed, everyone who appears in the book has their lives touched in some way by Sam and Emily, even if they didn’t know how those connections came about.
I highly recommend I’ll Be There for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 12 and up. Issues to discuss include what makes up a family, what attracts and repels us to other people, mental illness, parents kidnapping their children, wilderness survival and more.
Publisher Little, Brown and Company provided me with a copy of this book for review.