Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Synopsis:"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?
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?
As someone who read Since You’ve Been Gone after all the Americans, I was riding on extremely high hopes and expectations based on all the stellar reviews it got. I was not disappointed. You guys, Morgan Matson has done another wonderful, memorable contemporary. Also, that cover – love it so much! Very refreshing, summery and the colours just pop and make me feel happy. It also looks like Emily and Sloane!
First thing’s first… SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE, I CAN BREATHE FOR THE FIRST TIME. Sorry not sorry. Every time this book’s title pops in my mind, the Kelly Clarkson song lyrics accompany it.
Our girl Emily has been attached to the hip to her bestie Sloane since the latter moved to town 2 years ago. The best friends do everything together, and Sloane’s outgoing nature more than makes up for Emily’s shy one. However, this summer, Sloane has disappeared and Emily is left to spend three months alone. But! Sloane has left Emily a list of things to complete, and for the first time Emily will attempt to complete all 13 things in the hopes that they might lead her to Sloane.
I’ll admit Emily really annoyed me in the beginning. Her shy factor was so high I didn’t think it was possible for people to live like that! She froze up whenever someone tried to have a simple conversation with her – something as easy as a ‘hello’ couldn’t be returned. It was so frustrating how she couldn’t handle a conversation nor defend herself. Honestly she seemed like a bit of a doormat. But that spectacular character growth! Forced out of her comfort zone in her desperation to try find more information about Sloane’s whereabouts, she hesitantly leaves her shell and ventures into Sloane’s realm. Just goes to show what human beings are willing to do when forced to right? With the help of her new friends, Emily realises that she doesn’t need to hide anymore.
“Kiss a stranger”
One of my favourite aspects of this book was friendship. It’s what this book centres on. What was really profound was her friendship with Frank Porter, the smartest guy in school, an over-achiever but genuinely nice guy. One would think that being so proactive in all school activities, studying and campaigning all the time, Frank wouldn’t notice more than necessary. And yet he is SO perceptive. I think that’s what it takes to be a real class president – not just pretend to learn people’s names so you get their vote, but learn them because you want to get to know people. I think Frank was definitely the latter. The things he knew about Emily showed he’s observant and really cares about people. Emily on the other hand, being such a shy girl and by-stander, I would’ve expected her to notice things. And yet she knows nothing about Frank other than what everybody else thinks. She doesn’t think for one moment until it hits her in the face, that Frank has a life and isn’t all about studying. I absolutely loved this contrast and as the story progressed, they really started getting to know each other and Frank’s patience and support helped Emily find herself.
“Share some secrets in the dark”
For the majority of the book, I really disliked Sloane. We see her through flashbacks and initially, it actually seems like she takes Emily’s spotlight and doesn’t care about Emily being uncomfortable in a lot of the situations she puts her in. Slowly though, I could see she genuinely cares about Emily. And my favourite part was when she puts her complete trust in Emily in a common situation where others would discard their best friends.
“Call your best friend twice a week”
The best part of this book was the way the plot was structured. Each chapter is an item on the list that Emily attempts to tick off. Each subsequent chapter pushes her boundaries more and the gradual growth is lovely. Each activity has her evaluating her various relationships, situations and the flashbacks provide an awesome contrast to the Emily pre-Sloane disappearance. It just flowed so nicely and gave the book this really smooth and cohesive feel. The only part I wasn’t completely satisfied with was the ending as I thought some relationships could have been extended upon more.
“Date someone who’ll wait to make sure you get inside before driving away”
Matson’s writing is so easy to get into, and she paces the novel perfectly. Her style is casual yet sophisticated, humorous yet laced with deep and meaningful undertones. There’s something about Matson’s words that just suck you in – you will absolutely fly through this! And I just love the way she adds music in – the playlists are awesome and I’m convinced Morgan Matson has the broadest musical taste of anyone I know.
Since You’ve Been Gone has immediately become one of my all-time favourite contemporaries. Matson has taken the concept of identity and leaving one’s comfort zone and artfully articulated it in a fun summer to-do list that really allows growth and self-reflection. It gives me all the warm and happy fuzzies!
“I think it’s harder to be the one left behind.”