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?
The only regret I have about this book is that I didn’t read it sooner. I mean. It was published in 2014 which is basically dinosaur-age-ago. WHY DID I LEAVE IT SO LONG #LifeRegrets.
Anyway. Better late than never.
Since You’ve Been Gone is a witty book about friendship, love and new beginnings. When Emily suddenly loses her best friend Sloane (I skimmed past the blurb a while ago and actually thought her best friend had been kidnapped and that this was like a crime/murder/psychological thriller book) – like, literally, her best friend ditches on her. One day, she stops answering Emily’s phone calls and texts. Emily goes over to her house only to discover that there’s no one there, and the family cars aren’t in the garage. Sloane is well and truly gone.
But. It seems that Sloane has left something for Emily in the mail. It’s a list of things to do. Things like: “Kiss A Stranger.” “Go Skinny-Dipping” “Steal Something” “Break Something”. Etc. Emily is usually a quiet, reserved girl, and so these are all things that Emily has trouble doing (I mean, skinny-dipping sure can be troublesome!)
This leads to an adventure, in which Emily attempts to tick off everything on the list, and it’s not going to be easy, hence the next 450 pages. Along the way, she falls in love, meets new friends, and finds her true self.
At first reading, this book seems to be your normal book version of a chick flick, with friendship and luuurve (and indeed, even on a surface level, it’s an extremely fun and well-written book). But once you start to explore beneath the surface, you can start to see more about Emily discovering her identity, and who she really is without her best friend/fifth limb. It’s a book about discovery and Emily growing as a person. So, surprisingly philosophical.
At the start of the book, I took a note: “Emily seems obsessively attached to Sloane”. I mean, I get it. You’re friends. But do you really need to be so attached? I felt like Emily was just Sloane’s shadow. She was flat, with not much of a personality.
And then Sloane left.
And the list showed up.
And the character development happened.
As this book is mainly focused on friendship and relations with other people, the characters have to be relatable, well-written, if not likeable. And they are ALL OF THOSE THINGS AND MORE! You could quite literally write a separate book for each of the main characters, the amount of detail and effort that’s gone into exploring each character’s inner quirks and separate personality traits. It’s amazing! Characters are A+.
It’s amazing to see Emily flourish. Like, literally, at the beginning, she’s as flat as a pancake. She’s known as Sloane’s friend. At the end of the book, she’s known as Emily Hughes. Each chapter, and ticking off each item on the list takes her further and further out of shell, and further and further out of Sloane’s shadow.
Even though we don’t really meet Sloane throughout the book, we still get to know her amazing personality throughout frequent flashbacks in the book. Flashbacks that explain what Sloane meant by writing “Penelope” on the list. Or “Apple Picking at Night”. It’s amazing how the flashbacks tie in seamlessly with the real world, as we get closer and closer to the end of the list, the flashbacks become less and less frequent, showing us how Emily is slowly moving away from her obsessively attached previous life with Sloane.
Plus, the romance. It starts off small. Not even a friendship, but a “Hi welcome to the store, what can I do for you today?” Through awfully convenient meetings, Emily meets more and more with the love interest, Frank, and eventually falls in love without realising it. I’m shipping them so hard it’s almost creepy. It’s basically the opposite of Insta-Love (which GRR MAKES ME SO ANNOYED) and IT’S SO CUTE OH MY GOD. Fluffy-kittens-and-cuddly-puppies level cute.
It’s funny too. I don’t understand how, but every chapter will have one line that will make you laugh out loud. Literally. The people on the bus were giving me strange looks. LET THEM STARE.
Anyway, I only had one tiny flaw with this book, and that was how awfully convenient some things were. For example, her parents decide to start writing a play which means they basically forget they have children and hunker down only to write (I know, authors are crazy). This leaves Emily a very well timed window of opportunity to allow her to go out and come back at 3am in the morning doing things on Sloane’s list without having her parents yell at her. Oh well. The parents needed to be removed in order for the book to work, and so I’ll let it slide. The goodness of the rest of the book cancels out the tiny flaw. SO READ IT.
P.S. Chapter 5 is so cute btw. Awww. REPEAT: READ THE BOOK.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 9/10
Since You’ve Been Gone is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.
- Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
- Author: Morgan Matson
- Hardcover: 449 pages
- Publisher: Simon and Schuster (May 16th, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN10: 1442435003
- URL: Goodreads