Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Paperback: 464 pages
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Disclaimer: There are minor spoilers in this review.
One of my favorite book tropes is friend to romance. Once I figured out while reading that this is what SYBG would become, I was immediately more hooked than I was from the start. Emily has been left a list of 13 tasks that are completely out of her comfort zone. Emily dedicates the summer to completing this list that her best friend, Sloane has left her – who has disappeared and only left her this list. This has Emily frantic and confused by the whole situation. However, SYBG is not about wondering where Sloane could have went, it’s about Emily completing the list and how the list changes her life that used to just be her and Sloane. I loved that Emily was discovering herself and the summer she wasn’t expecting.
I definitely should have been eating ice cream at some point during this book because I was craving it when Emily would be working at Paradise. Speaking of Paradise, I really liked the introduction of Dawn and how Emily would tag along on her deliveries! I knew about Emily and Dawn briefly from reading The Unexpected Everything where they make a cameo at Captain Pizza. I like how Matson writes her characters, realistic and you want to become friends with them ASAP. That’s how I felt with Dawn and Emily as well as Collins and Frank.
I LOVED FRANK. He was a great character and I loved how friendly he was and his friendship with Collins was awesome!! Morgan Matson is great at writing friendships in any type of way. Emily was used to sticking by Sloane’s side and having her do everything like talking and making the decisions. Emily has to learn how to branch out and do things by herself and for herself without Sloane being there. Emily’s character grows immensely. Matson really knows how to write character development. Frank and Emily are friends before anything serious happens romanticly. They run together, share playlists, and joke around with each other, as well as have their “in a well-ordered universe” inside joke.
It’s so SO rare for there to be male/female friendships before any romance happens. Usually it’s just insta-love but I loved how the development of Frank and Emily was written and flowed. For me, I wasn’t anticipating a relationship for Frank and Emily but I was glad for the ending of the book. SO CUTE.
Matson’s writing is easy to read, fun and descriptive. I especially enjoyed the incorporation of flashbacks in this book. The flashbacks are how you learn about Sloane and Emily’s friendship which led me to my impression of Sloane which wasn’t good. I really wasn’t a fan of her because she seemed like she controlled Emily and Emily was always afraid to speak up. The drive-in flashback scene in particular, Sloane’s boyfriend Sam unexpectedly arrives which leads Emily to being alone when it was supposed to be her day with Sloane. However, I think this experience ties into a lot of the friendship and relationship elements that happen in the book. Sloane also seemed to be very uncaring of their friendship when Emily showed up at the end of the book. She didn’t seem to care that she was abandoning their friendship and Emily’s feelings weren’t acknowledged.
This book inspired me to make my own summer bucket list. It’s only in my mind right now but I do want to make one with 13 things to accomplish. I saw a lot of myself in Emily’s character as she’s very independent in the sense that she keeps to herself and overthinks things especially in social settings. For example, the beginning of the book at The Orchard. Emily goes by herself and is worried that everyone sees her being there by herself but no one is really looking at all. I related to Emily a lot, however I did get very annoyed by her choices and the way she treated Frank. She expected him to drive her to see Sloane after she ignored him and ran away from him instead of just listening. This made me very furious especially that Frank said yes. However, I was glad that Frank wasn’t acting like nothing happened and told her how he felt.
If you’re looking for a great summer read with character development and a fun friend group, I recommend Since You’ve Been Gone! It gives you all the summer vibes you will need to get into the summer mood. Matson also includes playlists in this novel just like in Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, which I enjoyed. If you have read Matson’s other books, you’ll appreciate the references.