Published by Simon and Schuster on 5/6/15
Genres: Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing shown, Some infrequent foul language)
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? Okay, 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…
Since You’ve Been Gone is a story about friendship and learning to be your own person and take risks in life. It follows Emily, who doesn’t know who she is without her best friend Sloane. She has spent the last two years living in her friend’s shadow (mostly by choice), so when Sloane disappears and leaves Emily with only a strange list of things she has to accomplish, Emily feels like she has to tackle the list – she imagines that it will somehow lead her to Sloane.
But in the process of trying to find Sloane, Emily instead finds herself (and makes some new friends) – and learns who she could be if she’d give herself the chance.
What I loved:
- Emily’s development. Emily starts out as a girl who’s sort of painfully shy. She is content to latch onto to Sloane and live vicariously through her – she feels like she can be herself when Sloane is there to take the lead. But when Sloane disappears, Emily is completely thrown – she doesn’t know how to interact with people without Sloane there to run interference, and she doesn’t really want to. When Emily ends up forging new friendships, it’s sort of by accident at first. She falls into these relationships only because she isn’t sure how to avoid them. But, by the end of the book, Emily realizes that she has a lot to offer the world – even without Sloane by her side. She comes out of her shell and takes charge of her own life in ways she never thought she could before.
- Friendships. The friendship between Sloane and Emily is shown through flashbacks and we learn how these two became so close. I could see a bit of myself in Emily. I was the type of person who formed a really close bond with one other person through middle school and high school (and even into college) – one person who I felt became part of me in some ways. And, usually, that person was someone who I saw as being vivacious and maybe being a little bit “more” than me. I could definitely relate to Emily’s feelings about her best friend and how lost she felt without her. But the other friendships in the book – with Dawn, Collins and Frank – are easily just as important to the book as her friendship with Sloane, if not more so. It’s these people who help Emily learn who she is without Sloane and make her see that she can move on. (And they have LOTS of fun together!)
- The list. The list of things that Emily has to accomplish are fun and sometimes bizarre. They push Emily to her limits (but there’s nothing really all that dangerous or bad about them). Accomplishing the items on the list sends Emily off on an adventure and bonds her to her new friends, and especially to Frank …
- Frank and Emily. The romance between Frank and Emily is sweet and perfect for a YA book (in my opinion). It’s slow to develop (which I love) – mostly because Frank has a girlfriend, so both Frank and Emily spend most of the summer denying that they have feelings for each other (there is a hint of cheating, which I’m not crazy about, but it wasn’t too bad).
- A bit long. The book sometimes felt a little longer than it needed to be. I don’t know if I would say that it exactly dragged, but there were parts where I was ready to move on.
- Conflict based on lack of communication. When things blow up for Frank and Emily, it could have all been easily solved if they’d had one conversation, and I didn’t quite understand why Frank didn’t just set Emily straight once it was obvious that she was misunderstanding something. This conflict based on an easily solvable communication issue is a pet peeve of mine. I also wish there had been a little more resolution to a conflict that comes up with Dawn, but that’s just me.
I thought that this was a great book about life and love, and especially about friendship. I give this book 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
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, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize. It has since been published in five different languages and six different countries.
In the meantime, Morgan moved back to California, went back to school again and in 2011 received an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.
Her second book, Second Chance Summer, was published in May 2012 and draws largely on her experiences spending summers growing up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Morgan currently lives in Los Angeles, though she loves to travel and does it whenever she can.