Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Novel: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson | GoodreadsRelease Date: May 6, 2014 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Format: Hardcover Source: Bought
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...
Funny, and daring, Since You've Been Gone is one of my new favorites. Second Chance Summer, one of Matson's previous novels, was one of my top three books of 2013 and this one looks like it'll be hot in the running this year. Between the endearing romance, the lovable main character with plenty of soul, and the smooth writing, it's the perfect read to start the summer with a bang.When her best friend Sloane up and disappears, Emily has no idea how to deal with it. Sloane doesn't say anything, doesn't give any indication, and then one day she's just gone, and Emily's there to pick up the pieces. Joined at the hip since freshman year, Emily's only left with the blurry postmark on an envelope and a list of things to do.The list has all of Emily's deepest fears on it, things she was never quite brave enough to do even with Sloane by her side. Without Sloane, Emily's shy and unsure, but as she slowly begins checking things off the list, that starts to change as she becomes more comfortable with herself.Enter Frank. The lovable gentleman. Frank's always been the unapproachable valedictorian candidate, the one who's always rounding up petitions to save old buildings and habitats with his equally impressive girlfriend. Emily never pictured that she'd end up spending the summer with him but when he and his friend Collins decide to help Emily check off a few items, it leads to a summer that they never would have expected.Despite following the trope of having the quirky best friend and the shy main character, it clicked really well because it was about self-identity. A lot of similar books end up contrasting it too much and making the protagonist almost bland. It didn't simply focus on the relationship between Sloane and Emily, but how Emily changed when Sloane was gone. They complimented each other, and Emily was forced to reevaluate her own sense of self when Sloane left.First off, major props to the character development. Emily subtly grew into the bravery and the awkwardness that she was forced to confront when Sloane was gone. It was realistic, but also heartwarming in a radical kind of way. It was never obvious or overly dramatic but unfolded slowly over the course of the book, which made it that much sweeter when we got to the end. Emily was quiet, but she wasn't filled with self-doubt, which was a refreshing personality to read about. She carried herself well and was just an all-around fantastic character.The supporting characters were a hoot, and not just there for comic relief either. The personalities awoken in each - Dawn, Collins, Beckett, her parents - were distinct and clever. There were small conflicts and beautiful moments for each, revolving around each other in a way that reminded me a lot of my own experiences with friends. Sloane - even as referred to in a flashback - still had a vibrant personality but a connection to the story that was a testament to Matson's skill. Again, it falls into a bit of an absentee-parents trope but executes it perfectly, in a way that didn't feel too loose and still brought in a family relationship. I loved reading about Emily's family.Frank and Emily were so lovely to read about. From their first encounter, it was electrifying and amusing and friendly. It was filled with all these heart-pounding moments but more than that, a solid foundation of friendship and getting to know each other. I can't remember the last time I read a YA book with a relationship in that context that captured so authentically the root of what it should be about. Between the girlfriend problem and the question of where their friendship was headed, it was a relationship that was really nice in its entirety.The scavenger hunt/bucket list concept really doesn't get old to me, especially when it's brought to life by characters such as these. The items are weirdly specific in a way that makes it that much more rewarding to read about Emily getting them done. A few items are tackled pretty ingeniously, others fumbled over and tangled up in a way that makes it much more realistic. The bravery required for everything was phenomenal and the plot was woven in such an overlapping, thoughtful way that didn't sacrifice any pacing. It's not necessarily a fast read, but I just tore through it because I couldn't put it down or stop thinking about it.If I could have a summer like this one in this book, I'd be pretty much set. This is one of those books that I started and immediately cursed myself for because I knew I'd never want it to end. I highly recommend this one, in all its sparkling, hilarious, moving glory.Recommended for anybody who loves: Sleepaway Girls; Second Chance Summer; How to Love; Twenty Boy Summer; My Life Next Door; This Song Will Save Your Life