My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was my first time reading a book by Morgan Matson and I really enjoyed it. Since You’ve Been Gone is a perfect summertime read. It reads very light and fun, but there are some very great and important themes explored throughout the book. The book explores friendship, not just between the two female main characters (Emily and Sloane), but friendships between male friends, female/male and sibling friendships. Yes there is romance, but this book is about a lot more then that. It also deals with challenging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and be brave.
Emily’s best friend Sloane one day leaves town without any notice or goodbye, but a letter is left for Emily with challenges to complete. All of these challenges are things Emily would never do, especially without Sloane. Sloane is much more outgoing and adventurous then Emily. It feels like Emily has lost a lot, but throughout the book and where this list takes her, she gains more then she ever could have imagined, although the road has struggeles and challenges as well. I could relate with a lot of Emily’s character and not wanting to do things that felt hard or uncomfortable.
I enjoyed how Matson includes flashbacks of times when Emily and Sloane were together before Sloane leaves town. This helps the reader see inside their friendship and understand why Sloane puts certain challenges on the list she leaves. I also liked that throughout the flashbacks to Emily and Sloane’s friendship, Emily does have boundaries and isn’t afraid to tell Sloane “no” when it crosses those boundaries. When the reader is taken back to present day and the list, Emily finds ways to attempt the list that challenge her, but she still stays true to the person she is as well.
Will Emily complete the challenges? Will Emily find out where her best friend has gone? What does Emily’s summer without her best friend look like? These questions keep you turning the pages.
The ending finished up some of the relationships nicely, but leaves some open to the reader. At first, it really left me wanting to know more. But, I read some answers to Twitter questions from Morgan Matson at the back of the book. Morgan Matson’s answer regarding sequels helped me better understand why some of the story was left open to the reader. I highly recommend reading the bonus material included in the book.
My tween daughter is also reading this book and I am enjoying sharing this story with her. I love the overwhelming themes of friendship and bravery throughout the book. Although, it is a YA book and drinking is a small part of the book, I felt Morgan Matson handled drinking in a responsible manner. We’ve also laughed many times at how much Emily and Sloane’s friendship reminds us of my daughter and her best friend’s friendship. My daughter is a lot like Emily, while her best friend is the more adventurous one and a lot like Sloane. Although, my daughter’s best friend has never disappeared and left her a list of challenges, we could definitely picture her doing something like that! I’m enjoying the conversations this book has sparked between my daughter and I.
I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more of Morgan Matson’s work.