I'll Be There - Holly Goldberg Sloan

If you've seen Magnolia, you'll understand how this story works. Sloan's narrative moves between seemingly unaffiliated characters for much of the first portion of the novel, but as the story progresses, Sloan reveals the connections, however tenuous, that exist between each and every person. Though some may say the connections are a bit too fortuitous or coincidental, I personally enjoyed the way characters influenced each other and moved around within each other's lives.

Emily Bell is singing at church one morning when she notices Sam Border sitting in the back pew. Sam and his brother, Riddle, are living under the tyrannical reign of their unstable and thieving father, never fully able to settle in one town for very long. Bobby Ellis and his parents want to find out who's behind the rash of thefts in the area. Hiro Yamada receives a coin collection containing a rather valuable penny. A bear wakes up from hibernation after three long months, and a cosmetologist named Olga tries to give a facial to a very reluctant customer.

I have very little to say about this book that would be considered negative, except for the character of Bobby. Unlike most of the other individuals in the novel, including some of the more minor characters, Bobby's egotistical and self-centred personality feels two-dimensional, though his situation does provide significant comic moments.

While many of the stories and characters I've discussed appear to have nothing in common at the beginning of the novel, Sloan manages to weave them all together in an intricate, humorous, and moving narrative that will leave you wanting more.

Recommended!

(This review refers to a purchased copy of the novel and was not solicited by the author or publisher.)

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