Sam and Riddle are slowly adjusting to a newly stable environment, having found a home with the Bell family after narrowly escaping their murderous father’s intents (I’ll Be There, 2011).
Though the boys are now separated from their father, this sequel explores the ongoing impact of the years of abuse. Twelve-year-old Riddle is largely illiterate, and 17-year-old Sam has had little formal schooling, leaving him uncertain about his future despite his intellect and musical talents. Fear of burdening their loved ones coupled with a strong desire to protect them makes the boys reluctant to share their concerns. Riddle hides his deep terror that his father will return, an event he believes is inevitable, while Sam conceals his anxieties about being labeled an academic failure. Consequently, miscommunications develop, most notably straining Sam’s genuinely deep romantic connection with Emily Bell. Witnessing the unraveling of the strong emotional ties that were forged in the previous book is difficult. But when Sloan take something away, she replaces it, and several secondary characters who begin the story with less-than-admirable motivations are redeemed in the end, delivering an ultimately hopeful message about how friendships and families can form.
Sure to be savored by fans of the first installment. (Fiction. 12-18)