I’m thankful for books that features great friends… like the ones in this book!
In Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Emily Hughes expects to spend a summer of fun with her best friend, Sloane. One day, Sloane disappears but leaves behind a list of tasks for Emily to complete over the summer. Soon, Emily’s summer is turned upside down when Frank Porter, junior class president and notorious “good guy,” promises to help her complete the list.
I’ve read three Morgan Matson books (Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, The Unexpected Everything, and Since You’ve Been Gone) and this book is my favorite out of the three. When I went into this book, I didn’t have extremely high expectations since I read many similar books in the past. However, I really connected to the characters within this book and think it is the perfect summer read.
I think the biggest reason that I love this book is the main character. Emily is very shy and often hides one step behind her friends so she doesn’t have to navigate any potentially awkward or uncomfortable situations on her own. While this sounds like many other main characters in young adult novels, I think Morgan Matson does a great job of adding more complexity to Emily’s character. Emily isn’t a stereotypical, “good girl” Mary Sue character. Throughout the novel, Emily learns more about herself and who is she outside of Sloane’s shadow. Additionally, Emily makes a lot of questionable decision and she faces the consequences for all of her actions. Overall, Emily is a really relatable and authentic main character for the story.
Another well-developed aspect of this book around the side characters. On the surface, many of the side characters have the potential to fall into tropes, but they don’t. Even though Frank is the “nice guy” and Collins is the wanna-be “ladies’ man,” readers also see more quirks in their personalities and the emotions that drive their decisions. I especially liked Dawn who did not fall into many traps of the main character’s sidekick. When Emily did something that conflicted with Dawn’s beliefs, Dawn stuck to her opinions instead of supporting Emily’s actions.
I also really enjoyed the to-do list aspect of this book. For me, books with to-do lists can really be hit-or-miss. However, I liked how Morgan Matson built a backstory so that the list and all of the bullet points on it, not only made sense, but reflected Emily’s relationship with Sloane. While readers see Emily and Sloane’s friendship primarily through flashbacks, I really had a good idea of their friendship and how much it meant to both of them. I think the author created a great resolution to their story line and I was very satisfied with how this book ended.
While Since You’ve Been Gone is on the longer side for a contemporary, I breezed through this book for its fun story line and easy writing style. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun summer book or anyone who likes books with well-developed characters and friendships. I give Since You’ve Been Gone four out of five stars.