posted at Monday, May 12th, 2014 at 8:00 AM | Reviews, Young Adult
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
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Amazon • The Book Depository
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...
At this point, I’ve concluded my first Morgan Matson experience, and it will most definitely not be my last. Obviously I’d heard great things and I was a bit worried that Since You’ve Been Gone wouldn’t hold up to the hype. There’s just so much pressure to live up to in cases like this one. I’m pleased to report Since You’ve Been Gone a rousing success with me. Matson’s prose is lovely, her romance slow-burningly sweet, and her frame story immediately compelling.
Warning: the chapters in Since You’ve Been Gone are almost all really long. The first two chapters together are 90 pages. I warn you of this, because I generally really struggle with long chapters. It’s a sign of how good Since You’ve Been Gone is and how much I was enraptured that it didn’t really bother me in this case. Plus, I think the chapter breaks are really logically done for how Matson is telling the story. Each chapter is an item off the list, until the ending anyway, which is when the chapters get shorter.
What list? Well, Emily’s best friend Sloane disappeared suddenly, despite a summer of plans ahead of them. With no clue where Sloane has gone, Emily keeps calling and not getting an answer. They’ve been inseparable for two years and Emily’s seriously concerned. Then a letter arrives, consisting solely of a list. Sloane did this when Emily left on vacations too, giving her a list of things to do to break out of her shell a bit or see more of the local culture. The fourteen items on this list, sent without a return address, are things Sloane would never do left to her own devices, like skinny-dipping, kissing a stranger, and stealing something.
Emily and Sloane were besties, and they had their roles. Sloane was the dynamic leader and Emily was more of a sidekick. She liked it that way, but she also doesn’t know how to be without Sloane. They’d had their own little world and now Emily’s abandoned and friendless. Without anything else to cling to, as her parents become absorbed in the writing of a new play, Emily throws herself into doing all the things on the list, hoping that this will magically bring Sloane back.
As you might expect, the list leads Emily on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, she makes friends: Frank Porter, Dawn, and Collins. She becomes a bit more confident and able to talk with people. She dares and becomes a better person for it. There are setbacks and painful realizations, but the journey is ultimately one of growth and hope. I also really love the way that Matson resolved the arc surrounding Sloane. I was a bit afraid Sloane would be some sort of MPDG, but the ending is perfect. The way the dares actually are accomplished is a lot of fun as well, very often not occurring the way that Emily had planned.
Speaking of perfect, this ship may have caused me some pain, but I love it dearly. Matson achieves the slow swelling of feelings so well. It wasn’t something I shipped from the beginning, but the emotions came on me gradually, just as they did on Emily. Oh, I also very much am on the Dawn/Collins ship, though those two have some serious apologizing to do to Emily for View Spoiler »dumping Emily for kissing Frank when he has a girlfriend, but SHE isn’t the one who needs to watch out for Frank’s relationship « Hide Spoiler.
Since You’ve Been Gone is a touching story of a girl looking for her friend and finding herself. It’s a novel of reevaluating first impressions and really getting to know people. Also, it’s wonderful and will make you sing Kelly Clarkson for hours.
“Maybe she didn’t do something big. Maybe she just told someone something.”
Frank looked over at me, more serious now. “Like what?”
I shrugged. “Something they’d been needing to hear,” I said. I thought it over for a moment, then added, “I don’t think you have to do something so big to be brave. And it’s the little things that are harder anyway.”
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy: