I’ll Be There

By Holly Goldberg Sloan


“Sam was in second grade and the star of his class, reading books for fifth graders. Ten years later, he could still picture exactly what that classroom looked like.

He’d never seen another one since.”



Raised by an unstable father who keeps the family constantly on the move, Sam Border hasn’t been in a classroom since the second grade. He’s always been the rock for his younger brother Riddle, who stopped speaking long ago and instead makes sense of the world through his strange and intricate drawings. It’s said that the two boys speak with one voice –and that voice is Sam’s.

Then, Sam meets Emily Bell, and everything changes. The two share an immediate and intense attraction, and soon Sam and Riddle find themselves welcomed into the Bell’s home. Faced with normalcy for the first time, they know it’s too good to last.

Told from multiple perspectives, Holly Goldberg Sloan’s debut novel offers readers fresh voices and a gripping story, with vivid glimpses into the lives of many unique characters. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I’ll Be There is a story about connections both big and small, and deftly explores the many ways that our lives are woven together.

Main Characters

…always listening for my brother, even when he’s only silent. I can shut my eyes and hear my guitar. Running water. Branches of trees in the wind. Sounds of all kinds. But really it is only quiet when I dream, and that is always in color. SAM’S PLAYLIST


… the inside of everything is different from the outside. It takes many pieces to make something whole. But even if the bits are in the right places, the thing can be broken. If you look at anything you can see lines. But you are seeing only light. Without the light everything disappears. RIDDLE’S PLAYLIST


…somewhere out there is the person who will change the direction of my life. Everyone has that person. But do you only know that later? EMILY’S PLAYLIST


…food is comforting, and so is talking and eating and being together as a family. There is the family you were born into and the family you choose. Everyone has something that they have to overcome. And everyone needs support at some time or another. No one gets it all. The secret to finding joy is to appreciate the small things, but understand their larger meaning. DEBBIE’S PLAYLIST


…balance is what music is about. And maybe the same is true for life. Being a husband and a father and a professor. If you are a teacher, it is important not to lecture in other areas of life. A true teacher is a great listener. And so is a great musician. TIM’S PLAYLIST


…a dog’s job is 24/7. You are watching and guarding and protecting. And then there is sleep. A very big deal. But eating is the best time of day. Even better than going for a walk is a good bowl of food. The world has so many smells. My favorite is bacon cooking on the hot stove, followed by the smell of the inside of a sweaty shoe–both so strong and so filled with promise. FELIX’S PLAYLIST


…would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?


…no one understands. They just pretend. I’m not responsible for how things have gone down. I’m not. No how. No way. I’m a believer. But no one understands that pain. CLARENCE’S PLAYLIST


…it’s strange to be on the inside, but not really feel that way. I can be laughing and right in the middle of it all, but it never feels how I think it should. Even when I’m winning it feels like not enough. BOBBY’S PLAYLIST


…they think I’m too young to get it. They’re wrong. I see it all. But at my age, sleeping with a plastic pirate sword under your bed doesn’t mean you’re a baby. JARED’S PLAYLIST