Wren Reviews: ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’

Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Realistic, Romance, YA fiction
Premise:
(Goodreads)

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…
Plot: Emily gets a letter with a list of things to do from her best friend Sloane. E tries to see Mona and drops her brother off. She sees the class president Frank Porter. Her brother Beckett goes to the top of the rock wall. Asked to get down, he does so, but Frank climbs up to meet him. And gets stuck. Beckett helps Frank down. Since she can’t see Mona, Emily goes to the Orchard. She sees Frank there with his friend Collins. She picks an apple as dictated by Sloane’s list. She can’t get home because she’s out of gas. Frank takes her to get gas, meeting a guy named James in the process.
Emily meets Mona and gets a job at Paradise Ice Cream. She meets Dawn a pizza delivery girl. Dawn takes her on her deliveries, but Emily misses the chance to hug a Jamie. She goes to get gas and hugs James, nicknamed Jamie by his grandmother.
She goes on a run and sees Frank. They get together and start running together.
She goes to steal a sign that Sloane loved, but Frank catches her in the act. Emily takes Frank home because he didn’t have a ride back. She sees the house Frank lived in. Together, they share secrets on the waterfront at night.
When Frank almost makes Emily ride a horse, Emily has a mental breakdown. She goes back to her house to Living Room Theater. Her parents do Bug Juice, based off of Emily, with Frank and Emily as the leads. The play is a success, but the two evade a stage kiss. Emily goes back to Frank’s house and kissed a stranger. Who happens to be Collin’s cousin.
She spends 4th of July with her friends. Emily sleeps under the stars with her brother Beckett after her father cancels the camping trip. She goes to a bar as her adult persona Penelope, using her faked ID. She almost gets into a fight.
She almost goes on a pony ride but is stopped because she needs to pick up Lissa Frank’s girlfriend for Frank’s birthday party. Lissa ends up not going to Frank’s party and staying at Princeton summer camp. At the party, she sees Benji the mysterious stranger she kissed as well as her ex-boyfriend Gideon. She sees that Gideon kept her Sharpie tattoo fresh on his arm.
Emily finally rides a horse. To dance all night, she crashes a wedding where Frank is. They share a slow dance before Collins, Frank, Dawn, and Emily go skinny dipping in the Long Island Sound.
Emily and her friends go camping indoors after rain makes it impossible for Frank and Collins to camp outside together. Emily doesn’t bring a pillow which results in her sleeping in Frank’s tent.
She goes to a party in her special backless dress. This party is at Sloane’s house, and Emily is a guest at the party that Frank’s parents had to attend. Emily finds a disposable camera with photos from Sloane on it. On the way back, she kisses Frank. After that, she loses all her friends. Dawn because Dawn was cheated on. Collins because he had to side with Frank. And Frank because he had a girlfriend. Frank appears one day, asking to talk. Emily runs away from him.
She finds out where Sloane went from the photos. And she discovers Sloane needed Emily as much as Emily needs Sloane. She contacts Frank, asking for his help to go to South Carolina where Sloane is. Frank agrees. She confronts Frank, asking him about why he didn’t reply. He explains that he broke up with Lissa. They finally get to South Carolina. Emily and Sloane reunite with them chattering about what happened and why Sloane left. You find out that Sloane’s parents are broke and living with relatives who support them. The two friends meet up.
Frank and Emily head back home. They stop first to Sloane’s special spot. And they kiss.
The story ends there.
Character Development:
Emily. I don’t like Emily. She’s a pretty girl who loses her best friend. Well. I lost my best friend for a while. And I didn’t react that way. (We ended up contacting each other and becoming best friends again.) And I just went on with my life. To me, there were other things. I don’t like her pretty girl, flirty-flirt side of her. I like the change in her, though. She goes from dependent to independent. She ends up not needing Sloane for every waking thing. Which is nice. I like when characters grow independent.
Problems: I think that I’m on the negative side here. I see that many like this book. I didn’t.
This book’s plot went from friendship to romance quickly. The author struggled to hold onto the friendship. But it ended up not working. I think that friendship is stronger than love. That’s why I don’t particularly like best friends turned couple. They might break up and ruin the friendship. I do think there could have been more family and friendship.
The characters aren’t too interesting. They have bad homes. That’s something in common. Frank especially. Almost divorced parents. I relate to that. But barely. I can’t connect to any of them. I don’t care if Dawn was cheated on. Or if Collins is flirty. I do like how Collins has emotional troubles. That’s something I care for. But Emily? And Frank? No love for them.
I didn’t like the way things happened towards the end. The end seemed rushed. A patchwork quilt tossed together hastily. It seemed like a major coincidence that Emily found Sloane’s camera, and found Sloane. I really didn’t like that. She could have traveled the whole state for Sloane. That would have been nice. A road trip. (After all, this author wrote about a road trip.) And anyways…did Dawn and Emily make up? The friendships she built are simply ignored at the end. It’s all Frank-and-Emily.
Good points: I feel like the story doesn’t have many good points. I know I’m on the opposite end of what others think. I just didn’t really like it.
The story had emphasis on friendship. At first. That started to fade when Frank had his birthday party. Things changed from friends to romance and let’s-make-out. I didn’t like that. Romance overtook the importance of friendship. Not a good theme.
The main character changes. For the better. Emily changes to a new person. She ends up a new, braver person. She changes like Cecily in her parents’ play Bug Juice. If you think about it, it’s true. She ends up better. And I like that.
I like Collins. He has emotional troubles. I like that. He has a bit of low self esteem. Something I relate to. Of course, I don’t do things without thinking. But we are similar. Enough. Similar enough.
I like that playlists were in the book. It had some fun formatting. Like with the playlists. And the letter. It was nice to have a reprieve from the typical, Arial font.
Score: 6/10
Recommended: If you like stories about completing a list. If you like realistic fiction with romance and friendship.

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