I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan was a very nice, heartfelt novel about the different kinds of love.
Emily Bell is 17 years old. She doesn't really like boys or dating or singing. But when her dad forces her to sing in the church choir, she meets eyes with a boy in the back of the church who seems to be able to see into her soul. After that, she becomes devoted to tracking him down.
My book club (foreveryoungadult -- in case you too are lonely for a book club) is reading this for our March meeting, so I had to quickly find a copy. (I actually borrowed it from the high school library that I volunteer at because my local public library didn't have a copy!) I basically sat down last night and started reading it so I could finish it sometime this week, and I ended up reading it all last night.
Overall, I enjoyed it, but I still had a couple problems with it. First of all, I would probably classify this as a younger young adult novel or (more likely) an older middle grade novel. The main characters, Emily and Sam, are supposed to be 17, but Sloan really writes them closer to 15. Also, it became a bit of a genre smash, where it seemed like Sloan had several different ideas for how the story could go in her mind and instead of picking one, she just used all of them: contemporary romance, survival story, savior story. Also, there are a lot of coincidences at the end that really save the main characters. Which is kind of one of those plot devices that can be amazing as all the pieces fall together or come across as a cheap writing technique. For me, this book fell into the latter category, probably because of the slightly cheesy music inclusion.
However, this book still had me at the verge of tears a couple times. Sloan does a really fantastic job of including and emotionally explaining familial love and how people who were strangers can become your whole heart very quickly. She also does a fairly good job of writing bad people who are never entirely bad. It can be hard to read that type of character because we often want to entirely hate villains and love heroes, but people are never clearly good or bad. Sloan really creates her characters with that in mind. I also loved her way of including tiny scenes to create a whole story.
Overall, I would recommend this to contemporary fans who don't want a strict romance but would like their romance to be relatively innocent (there's a couple kissing scenes which are very sweet).