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?
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Format & Pages: Hardcover, 449
Published: May 6th 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Providence Public Libraries
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
Awwwwww. This book – just so many feels!
This tells the story of Emily, who’s parents are playwrights and whose nutty brother has no fear of heights. Emily has always been shy and normal, until Sloane came into her life. Sloane is energetic, bold, and not afraid to speak her mind. The two of them become best friends, completing each other in a certain way that just fits. But then, one day, Sloane is just… gone. She doesn’t answer her calls or voicemail, she doesn’t leave a note of explanation. Emily is confused and upset. Then she gets a letter with a bucket list of things for Emily to do. Why Sloane sent this, she has no idea, but doing them might give her some clues. Emily proceeds to complete the tasks, and some of them are quite brazen, like ‘kiss a stranger’. But they really help Emily grow into herself and learn that she doesn’t need other people to tell her what to do. She can have relationships of her own, and make new friends! However, once she reaches the end of the list, will she finally learn the truth about Sloane? Or will she live life without seeing her best friend ever again?
To be quite honest with you, I really didn’t think I would enjoy this book. It seemed like it could very easily be cliche and boring, and the first few chapters didn’t make me feel differently, either. But I persevered because I knew that all the raving and hype that this book got had to count for something.
Oh my god, I can’t tell you how HAPPY I am that I didn’t give up.
Once you get past the ‘establishing’ chapters, as I like to call them, the story really gets going. Emily starts trying out new things and liking them. She has the most adorable mishaps, like when she tried to steal a sign from a concessions stand, and got openly caught by the cashier. Luckily, the cutest guy from school was there to save the day. Frank Porter.
Let’s discuss Frank for a second, shall we? I absolutely loved his character. He grew with Emily, and those mornings when they ran together were so relaxed and cute. He wasn’t the typical popular and preppy boy from high school, who had a ‘deeper, intellectual side’. No, his transformation after school was into just a regular guy with an obsession with The Beatles. Oh, and his hobbies and music tastes were so heartwarming! When he shared and made playlists for her, and she switched iPods with him so they could try out each other’s music? So ADORABLE!
I thought Emily was really stupid and wimpy at first. I really did not like her. It was like she couldn’t even cross the street without Sloane at her side. The words ‘seriously’ and ‘come on’ went through my head many times, and that did not bode well for her.
But once she started realizing how much she’s missed out on life because she’s always looked to Sloane for advice, and really questions herself and her choices, I softened up. And she got so much perkier and happier! It was some of the most amazing character development I’ve seen in a while, and it made my day.
Collins, Frank’s friend from school, was the perfect comic relief/plot mover. I mean, he made me laugh a few times, which is rare for me. Like when they all went skinny dipping, and he just ran out naked into the water, and then stole all their towels and pretended they blew away *giggle giggle*. He got Emily going! He helped her get through a lot of her tasks, which I was grateful for, because I really don’t think she would’ve kissed a stranger if he hadn’t brought his hot cousin over and sprung him on her. Hahahaha, that was so funny.
Dawn was also amazing. Emily befriended her when she came into the ice cream shop were she works, crying her head off because her boyfriend had cheated on her. Their friendship was so quirky and nice. Dawn helped Emily get her mind off of things and was super willing to help with the list.
THE FOLLOWING SECTION IS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE READ THE BOOK ONLY! THERE IS MORE AT THE BOTTOM FOR THE NON-SPOILER REVIEW, BUT DON’T READ ANY OF THIS UNTIL YOU SEE MORE BOLD PRINT!
Are you still here? Great! I have some very important things to discuss with you:
Emily was such an IDIOT with Frank. He was obviously perfect for her, but she took so long to figure it out! And then he said that fated line, “I have to sort some things out.” And I was like, oh my god. He’s going to totally break up with his long-distance girlfriend (I forgot her name, I apologize), and then get together with Emily! This makes so much sense! But I guess in her mind, he was blowing her off. She just didn’t take any time to think things through. “I have to sort things out”+working together on this personal list+a kiss that he definitely liked=LOVE! Helloooo-ooo? Are you there, Sloane’s brain? And then when he finally met her to talk about it, she was so b*tchy! Sheesh! She didn’t even give this sweet guy who’s obviously got a crush on her a chance! Ugh.
I feel like that scene has been reenacted in so many books and movies that it is cliche to the MAX now. I’m kinda disappointed that Morgan Matson felt it necessary to put that in there, because the rest of the book was so uniquely written and planned out. But thankfully not everything was ruined, so I’ve made my peace with it.
Let’s also chat about Sloane. I didn’t really get her attitude or secrecy. Sneaking away (even if you’re forced to because of money), and then never getting in contact with your best friend ever again? Was that seriously her plan? I’m surprised Emily wasn’t a little more offended. I guess I’m glad they were friends again, but Emily deserved better than to be lied to so blatantly. Did Sloane really think Emily was just her friend because of her money? I didn’t understand that at all.
THE SPOILER SECTION HAS ENDED, PEOPLE. PLEASE CONTINUE READING. I THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.
You know, I had some problems with it (like I do with most books), but it was a very enjoyable read and I’m glad I had the experience. I would highly recommend this to EVERYONE, it’s a sweet coming-of-age story that is very unique and gets you thinking.
Morgan Matson was born in 1981 and grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles but halfway though a theater degree, she started working in the children’s department of Vroman’s Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.
Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she moved back East to attend the New School, where she received her M.F.A in Writing for Children.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, inspired by Morgan’s three cross-country road trips, was published in May 2010. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a PW “Flying Start” book.