I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Sam is tall, seventeen, and mysterious, a resigned realist with a carefully defined sense of what's important. He's also nearly homeless, uneducated past the second grade, the oldest son of a runaway felon, a phenomenal self-taught guitarist, and--in the stormy, angsty pretty people-ridden realm of literature that is Young Adult fiction--one of an ever-dwindling number of male leads who are just blatantly good people. Despite his station in life, he doesn't hold grudges, and despite his necessary self-containment, likes to visit churches on Sundays just to hear the music. Emily tends to be a little too curious about other people. Her own circumstances stand in stark contrast to Sam's; at home she contends not with a mentally unbalanced thief but with her supportive (if tolerably overbearing) parents and typical middle-school brother. Neither unassuming nor cynical, Emily is not intrepid like Alice or a fighter like Katniss. Instead, her "thing" in life is to simply try really hard and see what happens. Even so, as the story begins, she's a little concerned about this latest agreement with her parents. After all, even being the choir director's daughter can't save her first solo...
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