Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Title: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Pages: 448
Source: ARC, ALA

Summary from Goodreads:
The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um...

What I Liked

First and foremost, I loved the storyline. I loved that Sloane left Emily a list of things to do that forced Emily to step outside of her comfort zone. What a fun idea for a book. And the list felt really authentic, like something that would be from a best friend that knows you better than anyone else, full of history.

I loved how the story was told. Each chapter was dedicated to Emily completing an item on the list.  I loved the journey she went on and the friends and memories she made along the way. And most chapters, if not all, had a flashback to times when Emily and Sloane were together, giving readers a greater understanding of their friendship and who the girls were/are. And Morgan Matson's writing is just so easy, so smooth.

I love the growth we see in Emily's character. In the beginning she is guarded, self-conscious, shy, fearful. But by the end of the book, she is no longer so afraid of everything. She learns how to be herself, not just Sloane's best friend. And with each item on the list that she completes, the more her confidence grows, and by the end she is rather brave. She really comes into herself.

The romance in this book was really sweet. A series of chance encounters throws Emily and Frank together and they grow to become friends. Frank starts helping Emily with the list and over time their relationship grows stronger, deeper. It kind of took Emily by surprise, when she suddenly realizes how much she grew to rely on him, feel comfortable around him, and want to talk to him.

There is something about this book that just made me want to live in the moment, seize the day, take risks. Watching Emily sleep under the stars, make out with a stranger, go skinny dipping, and feel so free and alive made me want to feel all of those things too. Not necessarily by going skinny dipping, but by better appreciating the beauty that surrounds me.

The ending was fantastic. Not only do readers get answers and closure, but everything wraps up just so perfectly.  I closed this book with a big smile on my face. 

What I Didn't

Now I thought this book was adorable and charming and sweet, but at the same time it felt a little underwhelming. I didn't experience strong feels with this one that would move it from a "REALLY like" to a "LOVE" if ya know what I am saying. I'm sure the length didn't help any. This was a fairly long book and although there was always something going on, the pace was on the slower side. BUT THIS WAS STILL REALLY GREAT. I don't want the one negative thing I say to dissuade anyone. :)

And in the beginning, Emily was so awkward that it was almost painful. I didn't think someone could be as bad at social interaction as she was. But I guess that made her transformation all the more dramatic.

Bottom Line

Morgan Matson delivers yet another wonderful contemporary. Since You've Been Gone has a fun plot, a rich friendship, and a sweet romance. It was full of life, love, summer, firsts, friends, adventure, courage, and more. The perfect summer read!

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