Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Teen review: Realistic fiction

Holly Goldberg Sloan’s I’ll Be There is a fictional book that covers very real conflicts. In just 392 pages, the story fits in the two teenage lives of Emily Bell and Sam Border, whose lives intertwine by fate. Sam and his little brother, Riddle, have to live in poverty with their abusive father, and Emily is a middle-class girl with a wonderful and caring family. They couldn’t be much more different, but they form a strong relationship. Together, they try to work past conflicts and find solutions.

I enjoyed this book because of the realistic perception of real-world problems portrayed in a conflictual setting. The story is very well handled, with just the right amount of light shining on all the right characters. Emily, Sam, and Riddle have a lot of personality and back story behind them, making them mysterious and intriguing, especially Sam and Riddle. I’ll Be There inspires strength in hard times, and faith. It is really cool watching these young adults grow with support from each other.

I would recommend this book to mature teenagers looking for realistic fiction with hints of romance. The reading level would be about ages 13 to 16 years old. If you’re a fan of fantasy and science fiction, I can’t say you’ll enjoy this book. As a fan of the aforementioned genres myself, I personally rate this book a 3 out of 5. 3 out of 5 works well for me, because I don’t usually read realistic fiction, yet I’ll Be There definitely kept me intrigued throughout the whole story, and there was never a dull moment. This book is part of a series. I have not yet read the sequel, but right now I would say the book works well standing alone.

Reviewed by Isaac Kim, grade 9

Editor's note: I loved this book, which we also read in high school book club, where it received high ratings. My review is here. I would probably revise Isaac's age range upwards to 15 and above. The sequel is called Just Call My Name, and is available at the Central and Buena Vista branches.

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