since you’ve been gone by morgan matson
Description: Stand-alone YA contemporary
Publication Information: May 5, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
First Sentence: The list arrived after Sloane had been gone for two weeks.
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They say opposites attract, and that was definitely true for the friendship between Sloane and Emily. While Emily’s shy and can hardly talk to a stranger by herself, Sloane is outgoing and will never back down from a challenge. Together, they have plans to enjoy the most epic summer ever.
Suddenly, however, the plans are abandoned when Sloane disappears and Emily is left completely unsure of what to do. Without Sloane her summer is bound to be totally boring and lonely. That is, until, she gets a list in the mail from Sloane with no return address: thirteen crazy things that Sloane is challenging her to complete. Kissing strangers? Skinny dipping? The list seems impossible, but it might just be Emily’s only way back to Sloane.
With the unexpected help from a newfound friend in Frank Porter, the class over-achiever, Emily decides to take on the list one by one in the hope that she’ll soon be reunited with her best friend.
pros and cons
Cover Review: Normally I don’t like real people on the covers of books, but this cover really worked for me. The models look like what Morgan Matson describes Emily and Sloane looking like, and I absolutely love the typography. Also, on the inside of the dust-jacket there’s a foldout picture/poster, which is pretty cool.
Morgan Matson – once again – wrote a super fun and amazing contemporary novel. Not that I’m surprised. What I am surprised to be saying is that I liked this book more than Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. Do you know how much I loved Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour? Hint: A lot. A ton. But I liked this book more, which – 80 pages in – I did not expect to be saying at all.
This book started off a little slow for me, which was discouraging. However, around the 100 page mark it really started picking up, and became such a fast-paced and fun story.
A lot of reviews I’ve seen have complained about how painfully shy and helpless Emily is without Sloane, which makes her irritating to read about. It’s true that Emily doubts herself a lot… if you cut out all the inner thoughts that Emily has, overthinking every decision, this book would probably be closer to 300 pages. However, I didn’t mind all of Emily’s self-consciousness. I thought it helped us get a better idea of how important Sloane’s friendship was to her, and why she was determined to get Sloane back. I also really connected with her at some points. One of my favorite scenes in the book was when she decided to go for a run and ended up awkwardly running behind Frank. She spent at least two pages wondering if she should sprint past him (but what if she couldn’t keep the fast pace and ended up looking super out of shape?) or slow down to stay behind him (but what if he thinks she’s a stalker?) I found her narrative hilarious and – unfortunately – super relatable.
The characters in this book were amazing. Frank, Collins, and Joan all had such distinct and wonderful personalities. It was nice to read a Morgan Matson book where the dad wasn’t dead, because the family that she created in Emily’s household was so unique and memorable.
I liked the overall plot of the book. Each item on the list was like a mini adventure, but there was also so much that went on outside of the list she was given. It seemed pretty unrealistic though… When she completes the list, is she really so sure that Sloane is just going to magically show up? Like, it makes for a good story, but what’s your back-up plan?
Frank was amazing. I know I already talked about how much I loved these characters, but… FRANK. He was just so great. I loved him. I still love him. Can we pull a Midnight Sun and get a sequel to this book told from Frank’s POV? Thanks.
I didn’t actually love Sloane. Her personality seemed a little bit off to me in all of the flash-backs that Emily had. I don’t know… she seemed really bossy and controlling. There was one flashback in particular where she was trying to force Emily to do something she didn’t want to do and Emily refused. It caused a lot of tension between them and then when Sloane leaves this list for Emily to find her again? It’s full of things she knows Emily won’t want to do. Like, I know that you’re trying to push her to not be so shy, but you know she’s going to hate this stuff. What kind of friend forces their best friend to be uncomfortable in order to see them again? It just seemed weird.
I liked that this book – like Amy and Roger’s – included some playlists. I was, however, disappointed that none of the playlists contained any Kelly Clarkson… it would’ve been fitting considering the torture that was having Since You’ve Been Gone by her stuck in my head for the entirety of this book reading experience.
The ending was satisfying, but if I’m being honest I saw it coming. Emily made some really stupid decisions that probably made it a little bit harder to get to that ending, but what’s a contemporary without a few poor decisions based solely on misunderstood feelings? Also, I’m going to try and be vague here to avoid spoilers, but whatever happened to Joan? I need closure, people!
All in all, I loved this book. It was such a fun summer read and the characters felt so, so real. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed Matson’s past books, or is just looking for a cutesy contemporary.