Book Review: Since You've Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Page Count: 449
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

I love Morgan Matson's writing; Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer have special places in my heart and on my shelf. I can't imagine my summer being complete without a new Matson novel to read or a revisit to old friends. I was excited to read this one the moment I heard about it. I love Matson's character-centric plots and summer influences.

Since You've Been Gone is the story of the friendship between Emily and Sloane. Some are lucky enough in life to have an epic friendship and these two girls have it in spades. They make each other better people, they have fun, and they provide a support system for one another. All of that changes when Sloane leaves town without telling Emily where she's going. Emily watches all of her amazing summer plans wither in the sun without Sloane. To make matters worse, Sloane won't answer her cell. Emily finally realizes that she's been abandoned and this might be the worst summer of her life, but all that changes when the list arrives. It's obvious that the list is from Sloane (she has really odd handwriting) and Emily can't help but think maybe this is the key to finding her BFF. The list sparks a summer journey that will help Emily gain confidence, make new friends, and see the world (and the people in it) a little differently.

I love that this novel is about a strong girl friendship. So often in YA novels, there is competition among girl friends or a lot of backstabbing takes place. Yes, that does happen, but I prefer to read about friendships that are more positive and supportive. That doesn't mean that Emily and Sloane don't have their problems, but I found that I enjoyed reading about those more knowing how devoted these two were to their friendship. With that being said, it did take me some time to settle into this one. In the beginning, I found Emily to be a stick in the mud who seemed a little too clingy where her BFF was concerned. I understood her being upset, but she wallowed in her misery a bit too much for my tastes. Emily did grow on me and by the end I was firmly on her side and invested in the story. On the other hand, I found Sloane's actions to be somewhat heartless and selfish. How could she just vanish with virtually no trace without telling Emily where she was going? There is a point where this question is answered, but I did spend a majority of the novel making predictions about this very topic. In addition to Emily and Sloane's friendship, I enjoyed the relationships with Frank, Collins, and Dawn. 

I also love that while Matson does include romance in her novels that is not the driving force behind the story. Think of the romance as the sprinkles on the cupcake - it makes things fun and tasty, but the substance underneath is of more vital importance.

Lastly, I was ecstatic to see playlists in this one. That element is reminiscent of A&R and put a smile on my face. 

Since You've Been Gone is the perfect summer read; it has just the right amount of angst, friendship, love, self discovery, and hot summer nights. This one reminds me that sometimes you just need to step out of your comfort zone to thrive.

P.S. - I couldn't help hearing the Kelly Clarkson song in my head as I read this. Now it'll be stuck in yours while you read. You're welcome.

One Last Gripe: The beginning was slow and it took some time to warm up to Emily.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I love the list concept.

First Sentence: The list arrived after Sloane had been gone two weeks.

Favorite Character: Frank

Least Favorite Character: Sam

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um...