Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 6th 2014
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.
On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Um…
Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Emily and Sloane have been best friends for two years now, they do everything together and have their whole summer planned out; flea markets, drive-in movies, a job together where they can spend most of their time chatting. But one day Sloane disappears without a trace, the texts Emily sends her go unanswered and all the calls go straight to voicemail. Without her best friend Emily is left adrift, without Sloane there are no plans for the summer and Emily has no clue what to do without her best friend by her side.
Until she receives a letter from Sloane, containing a list. Every time Emily goes on holiday she receives a list from Sloane of all the things she has to do while she’s away; try haggis and fly-fishing in Scotland, and stealing the bulldog mascot in New Haven. After two weeks of nothing from Sloane the list becomes a lifeline for Emily and the message at the end ‘when you finish this list, find me and tell me all about it’ is hope. Whenever Sloane has sent her a list before her holiday Emily has never crossed off everything, but this time she is determined to do them all, even the ones she is terrified of.
Since You’ve Been Gone is really story about Emily’s character development and the relationships she forms along the way. As she slowly crosses off item after item she starts putting herself out there more. She makes new friends in Frank, Matt and Dawn who, while not as close to her as Sloane is, are still important to her. They become her lifeline, helping her with the items on the list and cheering her on every time she crosses another one off.
Emily grows a lot during the course of this book. She starts off shy and withdrawn, Sloane is her only friend and Emily has always been content to tag along in her wake. Sloane is the one who is bright and open, always making friends and taking risks. Emily is the one who follows; not as adventurous but content to take part in Sloane’s wild plans. With Sloane gone Emily is alone, but as she slowly crosses off each item she starts to come out her shell, becomes her own person rather than an extension of Sloane.
When she first reads the list Sloane sent there are items Emily is terrified of doing; skinny-dipping, kissing a stranger, stealing something. As the story commences and as Emily spends more time with Frank, Matt and Dawn she starts to open up more; and as she slowly ticks off all the items on her list she grows more confident, bolder, more content in herself. She doesn’t need Sloane by her side to be brave and adventurous.
The friendship between Sloane and Emily was such a major part of this book, and even though we didn’t see Sloane much we saw flashbacks which helped cement her friendship with Emily. The two of them were not perfect but I loved that there was nothing that could come between them. We saw all the defining points of their relationship; the moment they met, the moment they became friends, and each moment which inspired an item on Sloane’s list to Emily. I loved reading the two of them together and, honestly, I think there needs to be more YA relationships like Sloane’s and Emily’s.
*Spoilers for Since You’ve Been Gone below*
While I loved the relationship between Sloane and Emily I also loved the relationships she formed with Dawn and Matt even more. One of the reasons I knocked a star off this book was because I didn’t like the way things ended between Emily and Dawn and Emily and Matt. The three of them, along with Frank, seemed to form a really close friendship, but towards the end it started to crumble. Don’t get me wrong I completely understand both Dawn and Matt’s point of views. Matt was upset by Emily seemingly monopolising Frank’s time, time he would have had for his best friend, and after what happened between her boyfriend and her best friend Dawn couldn’t see past Emily kissing Frank when Frank was still with Lissa.
When this book ended Emily once again has Sloane back, and while their relationship wasn’t quite the same it was still just as strong only in a different way, and also something starting with Frank but there was no resolution to the issues that had formed between her and Dawn and Matt. I would have loved to see, if not a complete resolution, the start of something building again between them, because it wasn’t just Sloane’s list which changed Emily but Matt and Dawn cheering her own from the sidelines.
*End of spoilers*
There’s not much I can really say about the setting in this book; it’s literally just another town in American where Emily lives and works. Since You’ve Been Gone for me was all about Emily’s character development, even as she returns to the Orchard you can see the changes in her; the first time she was alone, hiding behind the trees to avoid running into the ex, but the second time she goes there for Frank’s birthday she is a much more open person, a definite contrast to the last time. Even at the wedding she crashes she dances out in the open, uncaring of the eyes on her. What I loved the most about this book was the way it set up Sloane and Emily’s friendship. Though we saw most of the events through Emily’s eyes we got glimpses through Sloane’s as well, mainly through the pictures she took on her camera which showed a different side to her than the slightly idealised version Emily remembered.
I’d heard a lot of good things about Morgan Matson’s books, and honestly I was really excited to pick this one up. Did it have its problems? Yes. But did I really enjoy it? Also yes. I loved the concept; the list Emily was completing and how her character grew throughout, not only because of the list Sloane left but also because of the relationships she built along the way.
What did you think of Since You’ve Been Gone? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.