Review Blog

Jul 01 2015

Since you've been gone by Morgan Matson

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Since you've been gone by Morgan Matson
Simon and Schuster, 2015. ISBN 9781471122668
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Adolescent. Coming of age. Friendship. Emily is looking forward to a summer hanging out with her friend Sloane but Sloane just disappears, leaving no trace of where she has gone or what has happened to her. A to-do list for Emily is all that is left behind; a list with 13 things for Emily to do, including kissing a stranger and going skinny dipping. Emily is left with no one to hang out with - all her social activities had been with Sloane, who was outgoing and fun. She decides to take her courage in her hands and starts doing some of the things on the list, like pick an apple at the Orchard, the local party spot, and it is here that Frank, the school leader, makes her acquaintance. From then on things look up for Emily.
This narrative flows along beautifully, the writing making it very easy to become involved with Emily, who gradually sees how much she has relied on Sloane and how she has to make an effort to do things by herself and to make new friends. By asking for Mona (on her to-do list) she gets a summer job and meets Dawn, a girl who works at a nearby pizza place and they become friendly. Frank asks her to help him with his running and together they begin to become friends, becoming easy with each other, talking about music, and comparing playlists. With his mate Collins' help, he starts to help Emily check things off her list. As Emily checks off more from her list, she realises that Sloane was helping her to overcome some of her deepest fears and helping her to be a braver person.
Much of the appeal of the book is the exploration of friendship between the outgoing Sloane and the quieter Emily. Sloane drags Emily along with her shopping and even arranges for her to go out with Gideon and the two do everything together. It is such a shock for Emily to find that Sloane has left without a word and Emily is the one who ultimately has to teach Sloane about the nature of friendship. Emily gradually changes without the influence of Sloane; she makes new friends and is able to stand on her own two feet.
This doesn't contain any topics that couldn't be given to younger teens - even the skinny dipping is covered with towels - but it does explore the nature of friendship very well, the effect that one 's best friend having a boyfriend or girlfriend can have on a relationship and also the confining nature of totally relying on just one best friend. The blossoming friendship between Emily and Frank will satisfy those who enjoy a romance as well.
This has been nominated for YALSA Teens Top picks 2015 and that it should prove popular in a library.
Pat Pledger

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