Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'll Be There by Sloane

This book gets it's title from the Michael Jackson song by that name. Two brothers, one an older teen and one almost a teen have been dragged all over the country by their father who hates government, laws and just about everything else. The boys are just a front to give him a look of respectability. He ran from the kids mother with them when Sam, the eldest was just a second grader and Riddle just two years old. Riddle has never been to school, Sam hasn't been since second grade. What they know they are self taught, except for the survival skills they learned watching their father. The man, Clarence Border, has post traumatic stress syndrome and probably some other problems as well, perhaps alcoholism and schizophrenia. Clarence gets enough money to survive on by stealing and fencing his loot. He concentrates on smaller easier to fence items and there are plenty of those, usually, if you know where to look. At the beginning of the story they have just arrived in a middle sized college town and are living in an abandoned house and their truck at the poor end of town. Sam has an ear for music and has taken to attending church services on Sunday just to listen. On this particular Sunday, in this particular church Sam hears a girl, about his age, do a flat solo then flee the church. Their eyes met while she was singing, he goes to her outside to comfort her then vanishes. The girl, Emily, finds Sam and they connect very deeply, truly. Her family, knows by the way he dresses, his mannerisms and so forth that he is not from the same type of life that Emily lives. Rather than alienate their daughter they set out to get to know the young man and discover his incredible musical talent. They also get involved in Riddle's life. The pair, who are devoted to each other, are living a life they didn't know was possible when their father finds out and runs again. This time things go wrong, their truck crashes, Sam is thrown down a cliff and Riddle jumps after him. Their father is also thrown and badly injured. The story becomes a survival story, the two boys down the cliff and the father in the truck he has managed to return to. They are in a wilderness area. It is some time before humans come across the survivors. The story does flash to Emily's life in the aftermath of their disappearance including trying not to go to prom with annoying classmate Bobby Ellis who tries to do everything just right but in the end hilariously does it all wrong. Finally the story comes to a happy ending, which we mostly expect all along but which is interesting and fun getting to. The devotion of the two boys to each other is especially touching. Their survival reminds me of Paulsen's book Hatchet. JDW 6/14

No comments: