I received this book for free from Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 6th, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Book Expo America
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?
Morgan Matson is one of those SERIOUS BIG NAME YA authors that I’ve been terrified of reading but also actually really tempted by. I’m soooo glad I finally fessed up and did it. Since You’ve Been Gone is just like… perfection. What can I even say? I love this book to pieces and it made my whole heart happy.
So Since You’ve Been Gone gets all the props in the world for actually showing the “best friend’s story”. You know how in YA, often the side characters are seriously one-dimensional side characters just fulfilling a role to help the sparkly main character fulfill their destiny? Well, here we have Emily, who is Sloane’s best friend. Sloane is the one with natural charisma who everyone is charmed by, and Emily kind of lives in her shadow. But she’s okay with that because their friendship is everything. Seriously, it is an amazing friendship full of heartfelt moments and genuine love between the two. But because it’s always been “Sloane and Emily”, when Sloane disappears one summer (not in a nefarious or dark way), Emily realizes she needs to stand on her own two feet.
There were a lot of ways in which I could relate to Emily. She is nervous, shy, and awkward, and Sloane was the one who always pulled her out of that. Having to go through life without her is weird, unfamiliar, and scary. But when she gets a to-do list from Sloane, she starts having (super fun and exciting) adventures of her own and making new friends. She realizes that she can run her own life without Sloane – even though she still loves and misses her. There’s just SO MUCH character growth in this story that it’s absolutely beautiful, deep, and truly heartfelt.
And then, of course, there’s the ship. I shipped it like burning. I don’t know many love interests better than Frank Porter. Freaking Frank Porter. Can I have one of those for myself please and thank you? Aw, man, the guy is just perfect. He’s smart, highly motivated, charismatic, a natural leader, and so thoughtful. And the romance isn’t super sappy or obvious at all. He and Emily start off having a tentative friendship through which he decides to help her with Sloane’s list. Gradually, the two get to know each other, and they have so many sweet bonding moments that just made my inner fangirl into a flaily mess. Hand holding? ACCIDENTAL CUDDLING WHILE SLEEPING? One super feelsy moment after the other. Total Debby bait. I mean there is some drama that maybe could have been prevented, and I would have preferred a bit more kissing, but this ship is golden and I love it so.
The thing that maybe is a bit less than ideal in this story is the absent parent syndrome. It’s rare to encounter so much of it in one book, but seriously, Emily, Frank, and Sloane all have parents that just don’t seem to care to be near their kids at all. There’s some reasoning behind it in each family, to be clear, but it’s still a bit much. At the end of the day, though, Emily does have some realizations about how much her parents do care for her and her brother (especially compared to Sloane’s), in spite of their quirks and obsessions.
But I can just be honest and say that that didn’t bother me at all while reading Since You’ve Been Gone. I was completely sucked into the story, Emily’s voice, and that slow but beautiful romantic transition. Though this book is quite massive for a contemporary romance, it read so fluidly that I raced through the pages and was done in no time at all. It’s a great summer read, for sure for sure. One that I will revisit quite often, I can imagine.