Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just Call My Name (I'll Be There #2) by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Just Call My Name (I'll Be There #2)Series: I'll Be There #2
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publication: August 5, 2014
By: Little Brown Books For Young Readers 
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The happily-ever-after of Holly Goldberg Sloan's acclaimed debut, I'll Be There, is turned on its head in this riveting, emotional sequel about friends, enemies, and how those roles can shift in a matter of moments.

Emily Bell has it all. She's in love with a boy named Sam Border, and his little brother has become part of her family. This summer is destined to be the best time of their lives--until a charismatic new girl in town sets her sights on Sam. Now Emily finds herself questioning the loyalty of the person she thought she could trust most.

But the biggest threat to her happiness is someone she never saw coming. Sam's criminally insane father, whom everyone thought they'd finally left behind, is planning a jailbreak. And he knows exactly where to find Emily and his sons when he escapes...and takes his revenge.

*I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

There was a lot of buzz surrounding this book at ALAMW and I got excited just listening to one of the publicists at Little Brown get excited. At the time, I wasn't aware that it was actually the sequel to book one, I'll Be There, and while it can be read as a stand alone, I think in order to truly understand what these characters have been through, reading the first book is a must. 

Holly Goldberg Sloan's poetic prose drew me in immediately and her ability to tell the story from not just one or two POVs, but from all of the character's POVs left me a little awe-struck. One would think so many different voices would get distracting but it doesn't, and she weaves them together so seamlessly that you don't even realize you've slipped from one character's head into another until you're already there. In both books, she lays out a story that reminded me of a connect-the-dots picture. Up close, it looks like nothing more than a bunch of dots dispersed across a page, but once you finish, you're better able to see how each of those dots is joined together to form a bigger picture.

I was a few pages into Just Call My Name before realizing there was, in fact, a book that came before it, and I wanted to have all the pieces to this story puzzle before continuing. So I found a copy of I'll Be There at my library, read it as fast as I could and loved it. I was fully invested in Emily, Sam and Riddle and when I came to the final page I had tears pooling in my eyes and a smile plastered on my face. I was happy knowing they would all be okay, satisfied with the way it all ended. 

And here's where my feelings get mixed up...

I don't think every story needs a sequel. Doing so means more characters, more strife and sometimes it changes how the reader views the original characters overall. (Okay, so maybe just this reader, but still.) Sam, Emily, Riddle and the rest of the Bell family have already been through hell and back in book one, so why drag them through it all again? I guess maybe some readers wanted closure as far as Sam and Riddle's father goes, but for me, I had that in book one. And yeah, Sam is naive and will come up against some of the things he did in this book, but again, he and Emily were tested enough in book one. The ending for this one felt rushed and even though the romance isn't the main focus, I still wanted to see more happy times for Sam and Emily.

Having said all of that, this is definitely worth the read, it's a great example of sacrifice, forgiveness and love, and the writing is fantastic! 


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