Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Love & Romance, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
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?
Critical Rating: ★★★★★
Entertainment Rating: ★★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
Plot: Medium Paced | Well Weaved In Flashbacks | Unputdownable
Characters: Most Relatable Main Character Award | MY PRECIOUS BABIES ❤ | SO DARN ADORABLE I CAN’T
World Building: Not Much (not a fantasy/dystopian) | Modern World | Realistic and Imaginable
Writing: So Much Fluff (In The Best Way Possible) | Heartwarming | Meaningful
My reaction after finishing Since You’ve Been Gone:
In a well ordered universe, everyone would read Since You’ve Been Gone. This book guys… This book was everything I have ever wanted in a book and so so SO much more. Just by reading the synopsis, you wouldn’t see what is about to hit you from a mile away. It seems typical at first, until you start realizing that Morgan Matson has put a magical spell on the book, hurriedly whisking you away into Emily’s world full of friendship, first love, and self discovery.
*Hugs book* Out of all of the books I have read so far, Emily was definitely the most relatable and realistic portrayed character for me. She was the milk to Sloane’s cookies, the soft icing on the extravagant cake. Though Sloane and Emily were always together like two peas in a pod, Emily was constantly outshadowed by Sloane’s limelight. What I found particularly refreshing is the fact that Emily was okay with it. Throughout the entirety of the novel, Since You’ve Been Gone managed to not only stay clear of the unoriginal contemporary tropes but also address the fact that there are some issues in the modern world that needs to be solved. Morgan Matson did an amazing job reminding readers that being an extrovert doesn’t immediately solve all of your problems (just due to the fact that you verbally talk about them) and that being an introvert is just as great as being social, outgoing, or talkative. There are ultimately always pros and cons to any situation and this was properly yet effectively discussed in the novel.
As well, the way Emily acted and talked fit perfectly along the lines of her supposed character. She most often than not stumbled upon words, turned tomato red when embarrassed and wanted to avoid crowds of unknown bodies at a party. She wasn’t just a girl pretending to be shy, she was in fact a shy girl. Though she goes through tremendous character development over the summer, Emily still stays true to herself and doesn’t try to change who she is. Rather than the idea of contorting yourself to fit an ideal “perfect girl” mold, Since You’ve Been Gone is all about self acceptance and being able to step out of YOUR comfort zone regardless of what that challenge maybe.
“I don’t think you have to do something so big to be brave. And it’s the little things that are harder anyway.”
Though she was not in fact in the book nearly as much as she was mentioned, Sloane Williams definitely had an aura that shined through Emily’s words and memories. Sloane was what you might call an “ideal” teenage girl; stylish, outgoing and just tons of fun to be around. Sure, she was reckless and a little out there but that made her that much more likeable as Emily’s trustworthy best friend. For Sloane, I really loved the fact that though she had a completely different personality than Emily’s she was continuously trying to ease Emily into giving something that might seem scary a chance. She obviously didn’t push her off the cliff but rather gave her a little nudge to move closer to the edge. Sloane’s list definitely gave Emily the incentive to discover more about herself and learn to stand on her own two feet without Sloane holding her each step of the way.
Most important of all, the message of friendship in this book absolutely melted my soul. Emily and Sloane reminded me so much of my best friend that I literally had tears in my eyes as I read a couple of the chapters. The way Morgan Matson describes friendship explaining that when you are apart, it feels like one of your arms is missing and that real friends don’t need to tell you that they are your friends rang so close to home. I am so happy that this novel took the way it did because I was exceptionally nervous about the possibility of the romance outshadowing the friendship. Alas, it did not and loyalty to Sloane was thankfully always the priority on Emily’s mind.
“Real friends are the ones you can count on no matter what.
The ones who go into the forest to find you and bring you home. And real friends never have to tell you that they’re your friends.”
Though the friendship was great, the romance was also one of my all time favourites. Frank Porter oh my goodness… Can I PLEASE have a Frank Porter in my life? He was the perfect boyfriend material from sweet and supportive to always believing that Emily could achieve everything she wanted. We can also not forget the fact that instead of the love interest being a typical high school jock, he was an adorable nerd with an obsession with all things crosswords. Though a high achiever with a seemingly perfect life in addition to perfect grades, Frank Porter is ultimately concealing a dark secret that has been eating him up from the inside. The only person he can rely on is Emily and bit by bit his walls start to break as he shares his deepest worries. Frank as a person seemed like a piece of fragile glass all neatly bundled up in a thick, impenetrable shell of bubble wrap. When those bubbles started to pop however, he becomes this total sweetheart with characteristics that are definitely under appreciated in the YA genre, namely determination and respect.
“Nothing worth doing is easy,” Frank said. “Especially not in the beginning. But I’m not about to give up.”
Since You’ve Been Gone is literally the definition of a slow burning, squeal worthy romance that makes you want the two lovebirds to “just kiss already!” There was nothing insta lovey about Emily and Frank, both of them were genuine friends before they became something more. I don’t think I talk about this enough, but I LOVE it when characters get to actually know each other before confessing their feelings. It makes the romance seem much more genuine and realistic. Honesty hats on guys, (if you have read SYBG you know what I mean 😉) who automatically knows that the person they met a couple minutes ago is right for them? (The Answer: No one :P) There were so many Emily and Frank moments that I loved within this book but a few that really stood out to me were: Their adorable running scenes while listening to each other’s music, the pillow from indoor camping, dancing until dawn, skinny dipping, and the last couple of chapters omg ❤ Basically, I was dying of the Framily (do they have an official ship name cause that sounds weird haha) FEELS!!!
He looked right at me as he gave me a half smile. “You’re the brightest thing in the room”, he said. He lifted his hand from my waist, and slowly, carefully brushed a stray lock of hair from my cheek. “You shine”.
Side characters wise, Morgan Matson unsurprisingly nailed it in the head. Dawn, Collins, Emily’s parents, Beckett were all fleshed out immensely and added another layer of depth to the story. They didn’t appear as sidekicks but rather people with their own stories and complicated lives. The only complaint I have about them though is the fact that the ending didn’t give enough closure about the friendships between Emily and Dawn/Collins. While that may be the case, I also understand that instead of trying to tie everything into a tiny neat bow, sometimes it’s better to just let things unscramble themselves.
Okay enough gushing about the characters, it’s time to start gushing about the writing. This was my first Morgan Matson book (horrific, I know!) and when I had heard that SYBG was over 450 pages, I started to get a little worried. I mean what could you possibly say in a contemporary that requires so many additional pages? Turns out, A LOT OF FANTABULOUS THINGS. Though it was a contemporary, (and we all know that means it’s either a complete hit or miss for me) the plot and pacing was great. There wasn’t a single moment that made me bored and I was holding onto every word even as the clock ticked well past my bedtime. The list really drove the story forward and though I had already imagined the scenarios in which Emily accomplishes these tasks, none of them actually turned out to be true. (How many times is Morgan Mason going to surprise me, I don’t really know.) Each task that Sloane left Emily had a deeper meaning to them and it really showed the true meaning of the girls’ friendship.
Basically, Since You’ve Been Gone is the epitome of a well written contemporary. Somehow, (possibly through magic) Morgan Matson was able to intricately weave elements of a light hearted romance with deeper, more meaningful undertones to create this wonderful hybrid of a book. A perfect summer read or anticipating for the summer read, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend you to pick this one up!
Have you read Since You’ve Been Gone or are you planning to? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Thanks for reading lovelies xoxo,