Sometimes, you read a book that stays in your head for a long time. This one did for me, but not in an "I pondered x character for weeks..." or, "this book really made me think about y issue..." kind of way. No, what really happened was that I was singing an off-key rendition of Michael Jackson's "I'll Be There" for days.
Despite the mildly annoying after taste, I truly loved this book. And I honestly wasn't expecting to. It started out kind of slow, and this was actually the third time I've attempted to read it. However, once I got past the slow start (about 70 pages in), I found that I could NOT put the book down.
In the book, Emily Bell is an average seventeen year old. Her mom is an ER nurse, and her dad is a music professor who forces her to sing "I'll Be There" at their church - the scene that is the book's namesake. During this particular performance, a stranger sits in the crowd: a boy named Sam who has lived on the road with his convict father and his little brother, Riddle, for years. In fact, his life on the road began when he stopped going to school in the second grade. Emily is captivated by this stranger, and chases him out of the church. A spark flies, but without modern conveniences like a cell phone or a car, Sam knows he won't see Emily again. Emily has other plans, though. She becomes mildly - well, maybe severely...- obsessed and is determined to find Sam and pursue their future together. As their relationship unfolds, Sam's evil father finds out, and the crew of three is on the road again, leaving Emily devastated. With the help of ill-intentioned classmate Bobby Ellis, whose parents are an attorney and a detective, Emily tries to maintain hope that she can find and rescue Sam.
The book was so riddled with unexpected twists, turns, and adventures that I found it almost invigorating. It truly was one of those books where you start to really care about the characters and one of those novels in which every detail is connected in some way, but you can't quite figure out how. I don't want to say anything more for fear I'd give something away.
One of my favorite parts about the book was the ending. I'm sure you've seen a movie before where the story ends, and then there's a slideshow-y conclusion where pictures of the characters are shown and there's a little blurb about what happened to them after where the movie leaves off. Well, that's how the end of I'll Be There felt. It was a great ending and really tied up the loose ends, but still left me wondering a little. I want to see if this author's written anything else!!