July 15, 2014

Latest Read: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Publication date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received at BEA
Summary: 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? (Adapted goodreads.com)

The Good
In the past year alone, I’ve read books about running, road trips, summer, to-do lists for life, best friends, romance and opening yourself up to new experiences. Since You’ve Been Gone has all of the above and playlists (!!). Seriously, this book has it all! Emily and Sloane have been best friends, a package deal, the ying to the other’s yang for the last two years. Sloane is outgoing and the kind of girl who attracts attention everywhere she goes. Emily, in contrast, is painfully shy and unsure of herself except when it comes being Sloane’s BFF. If there’s anything she’s confident of, it’s been that. Until Sloane disappears without a word leaving behind only a list of things for Emily to do. Like dancing until dawn, kissing a stranger, riding a horse and more. A list of thirteen tasks that are all either things Emily is terrified of or has to figure out.

While I can’t say I’ve had a friend disappear on me as dramatically as Sloane does, I understood the crossroads Emily was at, even if she didn’t recognize it yet. My best friend and I went to same school from 2nd grade all the way until our senior year of high school. And when it came time to pick a college, I had to choose between going to same one as her or somewhere different where I wouldn’t know anyone. I chose the latter. I knew that if we went to the same school, we’d cling to each other like safety blankets and I didn’t want that. I wanted a chance to experience new things on my own, make new friends and step out of my comfort zone. It was the right decision and I couldn’t help thinking the same for Emily, even as she missed her best friend desperately.

Emily grows so much through Since You’ve Been Gone. In the beginning, I have to admit, I was pretty exasperated with her. I know I can be shy but she takes it to another level. Like I didn’t understand what she was so afraid of or why speaking a single sentence was such a struggle. But that’s the beauty of this book and Sloane’s list. Because of Emily’s belief that this list will somehow lead her back to Sloane, she actually sets out to complete the tasks and it becomes so much more just than checking off items on a list. She meets her fears head on (with a few understandable setbacks!), meets new people (hello Frank Porter!), bonds with her family and finds a newfound confidence in herself. It made me think she hid behind Sloane so much that she never took the time to know who she was or wanted to be. I loved that she was finally discovering this, with some help from her friends. (Pseudo Beatles reference! If you’ve read this book already, you get it.)

As I mentioned, making new friends — specifically finding people she fits in with — is huge for Emily and was undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of the book. As much as I appreciated the flashbacks to Emily & Sloane’s friendship (which shed light on a lot of things), I liked the current relationships she was forming most of all. Especially with Frank Porter. I loved the way they transformed from classmates who never spoke to tentative friends to running buddies to becoming close and well, so much more than that.

(Super minor) reservations
Along the same vein, my only issue was with how a conflict with her new friends was left unresolved. I know I called out Frank specifically when it came to Emily’s new relationships but I really liked ALL her new friends a lot. I’m usually not a big epilogue person but this is one of those cases where I think the book could’ve benefited from one.

Do I recommend?
I do! This is my third Morgan Matson book and I’ve really enjoyed every one! Although, I think this might be my new fave. Maybe. I should probably re-read all her books to be sure ;)

Happy reading!

3 comments:

  1. I agree - Emily's new group of friends post-Sloane were great, even though I am blanking on all their names right now.

    I also really loved the development of her friendship and relationship with Frank.

    And yeah, I think that drifting apart and friends coming in and out of one's life is something that so many people can relate to.

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  2. I just adored SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE! Morgan Matson's books will always have a very special place in my heart, because she tackles real characters with authentic stories - stories that I might be able to learn from or relate to. I loved SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE because it reminded me of some of my own friendship experiences!

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  3. I loved Since You've Been Gone! The storyline was great and Sloane as well as her experiences were ones that I could relate to. I loved reading about her growth and how she was able to find out who she was, apart from Emily and come to terms with her own mistakes.

    I agree that I would've liked to have a continuation of Sloane's new friends! I loved her friends, but I was a little bummed out that we never really got a full resolution.

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