I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Also by this author: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, The Unexpected Everything
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 6th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Friendship, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Love & Romance
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Emily is about to take some risks and have the most unexpected summer ever. Hellogiggles.com says, “Basically I couldn’t be more in love with this book,” from the bestselling author of Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour.
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. 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…
—Includes sixteen pages of bonus content!—
In a well ordered universe, you would read Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. I am pretty solid in my belief that Morgan Matson has written THE contemporary young adult book of the summer. I mean, if you want something a bit lighter than We Were Liars. Full disclosure, I am head over heels in love with this book and that is totally going to color my review. Readers who loved Amy and Roger from Matson’s debut are going to love her characters from Since You’ve Been Gone. This is a book that made me smile, made me sad, and made me want to hand it out to all of my young adult reader friends. This is one of the most fantastic books I have read in a long, long time.
Emily is looking forward to spending the summer hanging out with her best friend Sloane, who is a bit of a manic pixie dream girl type. However, when Emily shows up at Sloane’s house she discovers it is totally empty and Sloane’s family is gone for more than just a random vacation. Emily tries dialing Sloane’s phone and leaves her voicemail to no avail. Sloane is well and truly gone. After aimless driving and missing Sloane deeply, one day Emily checks her mail and discovers an envelope for her with no return address. Inside, she finds a list of things to do from Sloane. The tasks are things that Emily would normally never do without Sloane around. Yet, Emily becomes convinced that if she does all of the tasks Sloane has asked of her, then she will somehow discover where her best friend is. Since You’ve Been Gone is all about how Emily finds the courage to step out of her quiet comfort zone and really come into her own as a person.
Emily is the sort of girl that if you went to school with her, you might make the mistake of thinking that she is boring. She’s the sort of girl that I, as a bookish quiet sort, could totally relate to. The thing about Emily as a character is that she is timid and nervous and doesn’t quite believe in herself. When Sloane is with her, she really comes out of her shell and is much more daring. Yet, after Sloane is gone Emily retreats. Until she starts doing things on the list. As Emily’s friendship is so important, she gets over the hurdles of her nerves and her thoughts of everyone judging her. I love that. Emily is really painted with vulnerability and yet, she comes across as awesome but still someone you could relate to as you read Matson’s book.
Probably the very best element in Since You’ve Been Gone is the romance. First of all, it’s not like Emily has had no boyfriends before her new crush. We get these flashback elements where we discover that Emily used to be in this relationship with a quietly intense guy named Gideon. However, Emily ends it because he’s just not the one for her. We see her interactions with Gideon in real time and it’s so real and raw. I am going to stop here with Gideon because he is not the romantic focus of the book. Instead, I am going to say I cannot wait for you all to meet Frank Porter. Listen, if you like Cricket and Etienne St. Clair and Roger, basically the nice guy types, you are going to LOVE Frank Porter. What is between Frank and Emily is a slowly developing FRIENDSHIP, that’s right, FRIENDSHIP before relationship. Besides, Frank has a girlfriend and Emily is way more focused on finding Sloane. Anyways, the two connect over the list and running and playlists and trust me when I say that it is perfect.
Another really great element in Since You’ve Been Gone is family. We get to see a lot of family dynamics in this book. First, Emily’s family is front and center and plays a large and important role. Her parents are both playwrights and professors at the local college. This summer, they have an idea for a play which means basically that Emily is on her own for the summer as those two hole up and are hyper-focused on writing the play, about a friendship between Tesla and Edison. Her parents still show up occasionally though, and are really cool parents for the most part. Emily also has a younger brother named Beckett who kind of reminded me of Bran from Game Of Thrones in that he is constantly climbing all over things. Anyways, Beckett is a sweet kid who enjoys adventures and is having a hard time adjusting to his parents being a bit MIA. As for other family dynamics, we get to see characters who have distant parents, fighting parents, and flakey parents. We see that none of these situations are ideal, but such is life. I really liked how in this book no family dynamic was presented as ideal or perfect.
Regarding the friendship, that’s the central theme around which Morgan Matson’s book pivots. While reading, I kept waiting for a shoe to drop. I kept waiting to discover that Sloane was a toxic friend and that the friendship wasn’t the ideal that Emily remembers. Maybe I’ve read too many young adult books where the friendship aspect is botched. Regardless, Matson has managed to really surprise me with how well she does friendship. I loved that there was a positive female friendship in the book. I loved how Emily moves on from Sloane’s sphere of influence and how she makes new friends. Dawn and Collins and Frank are really excellent secondary characters and I think you all will like them when you meet them. Since You’ve Been Gone does an excellent job using friendship and it’s various stages as a plot line and theme.
In sum, I love everything about this book. It’s a perfect blend of friendship, family, and romance and coming of age and ugh, it’s just so great. I LOVE IT.
THE FEELS YOU GUYS, THE FEELS.
Other Reviews of Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson:
Pop Goes The Reader! – “Morgan Matson has done it again.”
Rather Be Reading – “has all of the elements we love and adore about Morgan’s books”
The Perpetual Page Turner – “My heart wants to seize up with happiness”
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