Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

since you've been gone -morgan matsonIt 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?

4.5 Drink Me Potions

I enjoyed this book a little more than I anticipated. As I kept reading, my rating went up a little more. Yes, Since You’ve Been Gone was rather a long read, and occasionally felt drawn out. There is a chapter titled for every item on the list that Emily wanted to complete to find her missing best friend, Sloane. However, I was kind of glad seeing that there was a whole chapter for each one, as it produced a progression for the summer in how Emily came to find herself.

Character development was one of my favourite things. Emily started off panicky, shy and alone as she found herself best-friend-less at the beginning of the summer. It’s understandable, especially if you have a shy friend like that. But slowly, with each item she crossed off the list, they challenged our protagonist to come out of her scared shell and for once, BE BRAVE. She had to face her fears for many of them. Like come on, she has a fear of horses but has to ride one. If I had to face my worst fear…..my goodness, it would not turn out as well.

I also liked the minor characters, like the friends Emily makes over the span of the summer as she goes through the list. They each had a personality that didn’t make them just mundane pieces to surround her with. This included her family as well. Her erratic playwright parents and adrenaline-junkie little brother were fun sides to the story, although they may not have directly impacted the central plot: follow list, finish list, find Sloane.

I’ll admit, I had hoped for more romance between Emily and Frank for more of the story. He’s had a long-time girlfriend for most of the story, which made it somewhat more bearable to wait. But if you’re looking for an amazing romance here, this is NOT the book for you, I’m sorry. I appreciated their growing friendship and under-the-surface feelings that gradually came. It wasn’t just physical chemistry between them. They were good friends too, and I like a relationship that’s based on more than just attraction between 2 people that may have nothing in common.

As for Sloane, I was very satisfied with the ending. For most of the book, I couldn’t understand why she left, or where she could’ve gone that would inhibit her from responding to Emily’s texts/calls. Hello, 21st century here. It’s not as hard to communicate with people over long distances. But I came to see her point of things and the ending left me with an emotional taste of their friendship that wasn’t just seen in Emily’s flashbacks. I surprisingly actually liked her by the end. Hoorah! She’s not a villain!

Overall Recommendation:
A mix of a fun and emotional read, Since You’ve Been Gone is a wonderful story on best friends and finding new friendships. With memorable characters and a protagonist with strong development over the course of the book, I swear, you’ll have a lot of fun following Emily and her friends as they complete the list. What an epic summer! Oh, and a bit of underlying romance thrown into there as well. It’s a complete package!

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