I’LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan

As a child, I once lived on a sailboat. On the boat, I had one drawer for all my playthings. In that drawer there was Monopoly (minus the box), a ziploc bag of toys I’d collected from McDonald’s Happy Meals, two decks of playing cards, and books. My small book collection contained The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Black Beauty, SVH Lila’s Story and The Servants of Twilight by Dean Koontz. I read them over and over again.

Perhaps because of this, my taste in books is pretty eclectic. I will read just about anything. But every once in a while, a book will come along and I will find myself wishing that I’d had this book when I was on the boat.

I’LL BE THERE is one of those books.

IBT is the story of Sam and Riddle Border, brothers and sons of a paranoid schizophrenic (Clarence) who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. When he’s not theiving from his neighbors or neglecting his sons, Clarence is hearing voices in his head that tell him he needs to leave town before the authorities catch up with him. You can imagine what kind of childhood Sam and Riddle have had.

Even so, the boys have a powerful bond with each other and when Sam meets Emily Bell and the rest of the Bell family, Sam begins to hope that their dreams of belonging might one day come true.

Beautifully written in a close 3rd-person POV, Sloan has crafted a story that hits all the right emotional highs and lows. The voice of the story is hopeful and compassionate with just enough ironic humor. It’s less of a romance and more a story of human connection. It’s about reaching out to someone, holding on and never letting go. It’s also a story about survival.

IBT was just published in May 2011 and is sure to be an award-winner. I’d definitely take this one with me on the boat. How about you? What are the books that are near and dear to your heart?

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