Since You've Been Gone by Morgan MatsonRelease Date - May 6, 2014
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 448 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?Book hangers are a wonderful thing. As a book lover there is nothing better than reading a novel that works it's way into your heart and refuses to let go. It stays with you long after you've turned that last page because you're still living in that novel's world. This is how I felt after finishing Since You've Been Gone. It's a novel of friendship, music, romance, and finding unexpected things inside yourself.
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...
Morgan Matson takes what ,on the surface, appears to be a fun, fluffy book and fills it with heart, and meaning. It still has those fun and playful elements you would expect, but it's also deeper and much more meaningful than I expected. It's one of those books that sneaks up on you, and it's because of decisions the author made. The characters, plot, and setting all work together to create something really wonderful, and it's because of Morgan Matson's talent.
The inclusion of playlists (and other similar bonus material) has to be done right for it to work well within the story. Morgan Matson does it perfectly in Since You've Been Gone. She allows it to compliment the story, instead of being the story. It doesn't detract or distract from the plot, but rather enhances it. I finished the novel wanting to go on a itunes shopping spree so I feel it was a rather successful inclusion.
The romance, well really adorable, is not overdone. It shares the spotlight with the themes of friendship and self discovery in a way that really works. Each is balanced so that you're getting a well round, well crafted story that doesn't need to be just one thing. Morgan Matson's talent is that she can make her story be each of these and have each be equally compelling and strong. One element doesn't suffer for the other.
Emily was someone I related to immediately. She is reserved, and content to stay in the background. She doesn't come out of her comfort zone very often. She's someone that might need to be pulled out of it from time to time. I loved that she surprised herself time and time again during her journey. It shows that it is possible to change and grow if you keep yourself open to new experiences. As she learns what friendship means, what standing on her own would look like, and how to stand up for herself, the reader gets to really know her. Of course, that also means falling love with her (and the other characters, obviously).
The secondary characters are just as wonderful, and just as developed as Emily. The mysterious Sloane who steals the pages even when she's not there. The insecure but hiding it Matt, and the adorable and amazing Frank. Dawn is also fantastic. It's rare that you care about the group as a whole, but every single one of them became important to the story, and therefore important to me.
Friendships, especially the one between Emile and Sloane shone the brightest here. All the ups and downs of friendships are within these pages. Love, forgiveness, and that bond that exists between best friends are captured here perfectly. Emily and Sloane hurt each other, but they forgive each other too. More importantly, they are both 'in' the friendship. Each of them cares about the other, and this story makes that point glaringly obvious.
No review could be complete without talking about the 'to do list' that drives this story. It links back to Emily and Sloane's friendship perfectly with Sloane knowing exactly what Emily needs (even if Emily may not think so). As everything unfolds we see that many of the items on the list are directly related to their friendship and fears that Emily needs to overcome. It's a sweet way for them to connect and to unravel the mystery of where Sloane is now
To quote Emily and Frank - In a well ordered universe everyone would read Since You've Been Gone. It's a sweet, fun novel about friendship, finding things within yourself you didn't know where there, and taking risks. It's a must have item for your beach bag this summer that will be a perfect beach read. It's a novel that will make you want to hug your own best friend, and perhaps make a few lists of your own.