Published by Simon and Schuster Australia on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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? Okay, 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…
It’s so refreshing to read a book that focuses on friendship first. Emily and Sloane have a really strong friendship which shone throughout the pages, and you could really see how the two girls strengthen each other. We don’t see many genuine female friendships in fiction where the girls don’t diminish into bitchiness or try and outdo each other, but Since You’ve Been Gone gives us one where they left each other up.
Emily is a socially awkward, shy teenager filled with the usual teenage insecurities. Her best friend Sloane is a bold, outgoing and cool girl, who teaches her all she knows about fashion, dating and confidence. I loved how both the girls relied on each other when they needed to, shared their adventures together and how Sloane brought Emily out of her shell. You could really feel her loss when Sloane disappeared, and understand why she would go out of her way to complete a list just to reunite with her best friend again.
Since Sloane had come to town, I happily existed by her side. People called out to her by name and waved at me, and I had a feeling that the majority of my class would, like the landscaping guy, identify me as “That girl who’s always with Sloane Williams” or something along those lines. And I never minded – even just being Sloane’s friend made me much more interesting than I ever would be on my own.
I loved how the plot focused on completing a list, filled with a bunch of things Emily never had the confidence to do before. Kiss a stranger, go skinny dipping, dance until dawn, the list goes on. Each chapter of the book crosses off a different item on the list, and Emily will get more and more bolder, meet new friends and discover more about herself. She really blooms as a character who was lonely and insecure into one filled with confidence and surrounded by friends.
The only thing that I wasn’t fully comfortable with was the romantic subplot. Emily starts hanging out with Frank, the junior class president who is also in a stable long-term relationship. It all starts out quite innocently, as they start getting to know each other on morning runs together. Their friendship was convincing enough, due to Emily’s loneliness as Sloane had left and Frank missing his long distance girlfriend. However, it’s just a principle that you don’t start getting to know a guy with a girlfriend, even if he asks to hang out, because that can’t end well.
I somehow knew that the particulars didn’t matter. She was my heart, she was half of me, and nothing, certainly not a few measly hundred miles, was ever going to change that.
At the start, Emily was also quite weird about Sloane’s disappearance and doesn’t disclose what she knew about it until the middle of the book. Because of this, I was preoccupied with wondering what had happened to Sloane and why Emily would lie to people about it. It eventually comes out that she was embarrassed about not knowing where Sloane went, but for me, it was a distraction from the plot.
Since You’ve Been Gone is a wonderful book about a strong female friendship, finding yourself, and gaining the confidence to do things you’ve never done before. Despite a few small niggles I had with it, I enjoyed the warm and fuzzy story that feels like a beautifully written chick flick.
Rating: 4 out of 5
I received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.