A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that teen thriller Just Call My Name is the sequel to Holly Goldberg Sloan's YA debut, I'll Be There. It continues the story of Sam and Riddle Border (ages 17 and 12 respectively); Sam's girlfriend, Emily; her loving family, who've taken in the two boys; and Clarence Border, the boys' violent, abusive father, who plots revenge on all of them for what happened in Book 1. There's a lot of violence: One character is kidnapped, another shot dead. A character who claims to be an adult but probably isn't gets drunk and sick on beer. On the lam, Clarence drinks liquor, smokes cigarettes, and gulps down all the prescription drugs he can steal. There's gunplay, speeding, and vehicles on fire. Amid these and other hazards, two teens in love try to stay true and do the right thing.
What's the story?
As JUST CALL MY NAME begins, brothers Sam and Riddle Border, who've lived on the run with their deranged father for the past 10 years, are trying to adjust to life in the loving family of Sam's girlfriend, Emily. They're just starting to feel safe because Clarence Border, the boys' father, is locked up in prison a state away. But Clarence, obsessed with revenge, is plotting his escape. Meanwhile, a strange new girl in town may be a threat to Sam and Emily's relationship.
Is it any good?
Readers who haven't read the previous volume, I'll Be There, may spend about the first third of this book a bit confused. Author Holly Goldberg Sloan's third-person omniscient voice goes into the heads of the characters to bring the reader up to speed on their situation, often in plodding, angsty prose that mirrors the character's states of mind, as in this passage:
"He was hers.
"Weren't she and Sam one?
"Hadn't they already been tested?
"Since the impossibly sexy Destiny had appeared, suddenly they were one plus the shadow of someone else. And it felt like they were three.
"Was she imagining that?
"It was real."
Sam, Riddle, and their evil father are compelling, complex characters; many of the others are essentially ciphers or personifications of qualities needed to move the plot along. But once the action starts, very little of this matters; more sophisticated readers may roll their eyes a bit, but even they will be turning the pages fast to see whether the heroes can survive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about kids who had horrible childhoods and are now in a happier, safer situation, as Sam and Riddle are here. What kinds of problems do you think they'd have adjusting?
Why do you think stories of deranged killers out to torture and kill innocents -- and the often unlikely alliances of people who rise up to stop it -- are so popular?
If you read the first book in the series, do you like the way Just Call My Name resolves the issues? If you didn't, did you have a hard time getting into the story?
- Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: August 5, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks
- Last updated: February 4, 2020
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