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?
So, thanks to an oddly timed radio pick today (i.e. my radio station playing Miley Cyrus’ 7 Things during the AM), I found the perfect way to express my unadulterated love for Morgan Matson’s recent Since You’ve Been Gone summer release. Oh, this book got me out of a huge reading slump, and it made me giddy with summer love and teenage past and breathless future.
Since You’ve Been Gone, at first glance, seemed to be that kind of book you think you’ve read a thousand times before – invisible teenage girl is left behind by the outgoing best friend and has to check off a couple of things from a list during the summer holidays. I’d had this one for a month before I reluctantly decided to kill it off my TBR pile. And then I read the first chapter, and I didn’t put it down until my body physically couldn’t take any more reading for the night. It became an endless summer night extravaganza, and it’s been one of the very few books that has managed to capture the actual feeling of a teenage summer for me, the atmosphere of young adventures and struggling nights. Since You’ve Been Gone has such authenticity; it was sometimes odd to read Emily’s story and forget that I’m not sixteen myself. Because it made me feel sixteen again, which barely ever happens to me now. Let’s get on with
The 7 Things I Loved About Since You’ve Been Gone
1) The POV: I haven’t identified with a character like Emily this much in a long time. Sure, you adore female leads and think they’re amazing and you’d do anything to be more like them, but you know deep down you could never be. With Emily however, you become her. Her insecurities and wants, her thoughts and needs, you realize that you’ve been through it all. Emily is universal, a little bit of a female Holden Caulfield, though a little less paranoid and phony (;)). She’s relatable, and realistically so, that it was a delight to experience the story from her POV.
2) The List: I loved the list. I loved that it featured things that didn’t seem so big at all, but were HUGE for Emily. A lot of people are afraid of small things, daily things, and sometimes it’s those that need to be conquered rather than more dramatic propositions. There was dare in Sloane’s list, despite the “normality” of it, and that was awesome.
3) The Brother: Emily’s younger brother Beckett was an absolute highlight and the secret star of the novel. The little monkey captured my heart from the get-go, and I only wished he’d gotten more page time. But alas, what we did get was perfection, and he was the icing on the top of this novel.
4) The Parents: I usually get annoyed by parental figures that are present physically but are mentally off doing their thing and ignore their offspring for the better part of the story because it is convenient to the story, but these two really became characters of their own and no sidekicks to a free reign of the protagonist. They were brilliant.
5) The Frank: The love interest, who, I must say, was an awesome pick: he’s super smart, he’s Class President, and he’s an entity that Emily doesn’t realize is a person outside of his reputation. I loved that she got to look behind the façade and get to know him. He became an awesome addition to the cast of the book.
6) The Orchard: A lot of scenes take place in the abandoned orchard outside of town, and I’ve always been a sucker for eerie locations, especially when they’re featured by night a lot. The orchard brings a great setting to the story, and the atmosphere it creates in every scene is so much more than just that of a background. It’s a big part of Emily’s journey, and fittingly so.
7) The Playlists: I always try to get all of the playlists that Matson features in her books done on Spotify and listen to them while I read, and they’re just superb. Not only are they genuinely great playlists, they also let you get to know the characters on a whole different level. As a musicology minor, I love that incorporation of musical characteristics, and it just adds to the already awesome reading experience even more.
Honestly, this read is perfect for everyone out there. If you’re a teenager right now, it’s an awesome read-along to your present life, if you’re even younger, it’s a great bucket of hopeful for what’s to come, and if you’re more on the older side of things, this will make you feel all of those things along with some truly gratifying nostalgia. It’s a summer read, but it’s also a little ode to that last summer that made you grow up and realize it isn’t all that bad to leave behind a little bit of childhood for the sake of something bigger. Since You’ve Been Gone was a long summer night spent outside with the people you love most, and I know we all know what that feels like.