Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 449 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Amazon)
Before Sloane, Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, and she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—someone 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 with thirteen bizarre tasks that Emily would never try. But what if they can lead her to Sloane?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Wait... what?
Getting through Sloane’s list will mean a lot of firsts, and with a whole summer ahead of her—and with the unexpected help of the handsome Frank Porter—who knows what she’ll find.
Go skinny dipping? Um...
Thoughts on Since You've Been Gone
I was excited about this book from the moment I saw it because I love friendship stories, especially in YA. I feel like there's often more stories about mean girls, girls without any solid female friends, or girls who are currently fighting or having issues with their best friend. Those are all fine because goodness knows that's realistic, but I often long for stories where best friends have each other's backs. So, I was pumped about the release of this book!
Sloane and Emily are inseparable. They're always together, and Emily wouldn't want it any other way. Before Sloane, she didn't really fit in: no parties, no boyfriends, no crazy adventures. But Sloane is the complete opposite, and she pulls Emily into her whirlwind of activity and that's just fine with Emily. Then, Sloane disappears without a trace.
She's not answering her phone, and no one is at the house. Where did she go, and why did she leave without saying a word? The girls were supposed to have an epic summer, but now Emily feels lost and abandoned. The only word from Sloane is a note with thirteen tasks for Emily to complete, and task lists had been one of their traditions whenever Emily traveled. Something is different about this one, but Emily is convinced that the key to finding Sloane is completing the list.
I really loved this book, even though it wasn't quite what I expected. I didn't realize that Sloane was going absent throughout the book, aside from some flashbacks. I'd read the summary, but I thought for sure she'd make an appearance early on. So, Since You've Been Gone is a friendship story, yes, but it's not really Emily and Sloane's story. Emily begins to make new friends in Sloane's absence, and I loved seeing that happen. Emily doesn't really know who she is without Sloane, and the list becomes a way of pushing her into new things. I may have gone into the book wanting to fall in love with Sloane and Emily's friendship, but I ended up being completely charmed by the other secondary characters who fill in the gaps.
Since You've Been Gone really was a delight to read. I could relate to Emily in some ways - I'm not the most adventurous person and have always been scared to try new things. I love when I find friends who force me to break out a bit and live more boldly. Is it weird to say I love a book because I felt like I understand the main character so perfectly? I mean, Matson's writing is always wonderful and her characters always have complexity and depth to them... but what really made me love this book was Emily. I have felt like her more times than I care to admit - letting fear and insecurity hold me back. Seeing Emily's growth as she completed the tasks reminded me of those moments in my life when I had the courage to do the things that scared me.
I love also how fully Matson immerses you in this story. I mean, there are even playlists included in these pages! There were so many other moments where the dialogue just made me stop and laugh or characters referenced these little things that just made the world seem so real. I don't know how to explain it, but Matson really excels at the small details.
Since You've Been Gone was my third Morgan Matson, and she's now firmly on my list of favorite authors. From road trips to illness to friendship, she's proven that she can get me hooked on any of her stories. If you can't tell already, I obviously recommend this book!
“I don’t think you have to do something so big to be brave. And it’s the little things that are harder anyway.”