The You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick

Title: Then You Were Gone
Author: Lauren Strasnick
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 224, Hardcover
Rating: 1 star

Summary from Goodreads:
In the tradition of 13 Reasons Why, a suspenseful and heart-wrenching novel from the author of Nothing Like You and Her and Me and You.Two years ago, Adrienne’s best friend walked out of her life. One week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate, muffled voicemail. Adrienne never called back.

Now Dakota is missing. She left behind a string of broken hearts, a flurry of rumors, and a suicide note.

Adrienne can’t stop obsessing over what might have happened if she’d answered Dakota’s call. And she’s increasingly convinced that Dakota must still be alive.

Maybe finding and saving Dakota is the only way Adrienne can save herself.

Or maybe it’s too late for them both.

DISCLAIMER: I understand that authors write these conflicted novels for one reason or another but there should be some clear cause and effect to explain why a teen could stumble down a dark path. Without that clarity, the book looses its purpose.

Adrienne and Dakota were "friends" growing up and by "friends" I mean Adrienne followed Dakota like a cowed puppy. She didn't make her own decisions and wasn't her own person. Even though Dakota was selfish and manipulative, Adrienne worshipped the ground she walked on. Then after Dakota breaks all ties on their "friendship" Adrienne still obsesses over her from a distance. I really couldn't understand this relationship, or Dakota's appeal. Yeah sure, we all have friends who may have the more dominant personality, or who we secretly envy a little for being skinnier, or prettier, or whatever, but a true friendship implies trust and caring and some level of equality. But Dakota selfish and and controlling. How did Adrienne fall in love with her? The whole dynamic seemed extremely unhealthy and unjustified.

When Dakota disappears, Adrienne falls apart and destroys what semblance of a life she has made for herself since she broke up with Dakota. Adrienne is convinced that Dakota wouldn't kill herself despite the suicide note and washed up boot. But this isn't a mystery novel. Instead, its 200+ pages of Adrienne treating her self, her boyfriend and friends like shit before she stumbles across the truth of what happened. It was so frustrating to read through. She makes bad decision after bad decision like the entire reason for her existence was Dakota. She stopped going to school. She started smoking. She dressed and acted different. She even slept with her boyfriend just to distract herself.

I didn't understand her reaction at all. I would understand sadness and I would understand a desire to know what happened for closure. But that didn't seem to be what compelled Adrienne. It was more like she still felt rejected over being dumped 2 years ago, and not having Dakota to fixate over anymore. Again, I couldn't understand why Adrienne became so unstable, even with the information we get at the end of the novel. Maybe if I did, I wouldn't be so harsh on this book, but I probably still wouldn't like it.

To top it all off. The writing and dialogue was choppy and unnatural. People do not speak every sentence in three words or less. It drove me crazy. I don't know if the author was going for an informal style but whatever it was meant to be, i didn't like it.

I hate to say it, but I can't recommend this novel. As I reflected back on this read I had to reduce my initial 2 star rating to 1 star. I just didn't like it and I was confused the entire time. This novel is neither suspenseful nor heart-wrenching. Rather, it represents poor decision making and unhealthy behaviors. If you would like to form your own opinion, at least I can say that this book is a very quick read.
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