Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson Review: Friendship First

November 26, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Reviews

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson Review: Friendship FirstSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster Australia on May 6, 2014
Source: Publisher
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. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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47 responses to “Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson Review: Friendship First

  1. Sunny @ A Sunny Spot

    This is on my Xmas wish list so once I saw you read it, I just had to hear what you had to say. I really like the sound of the plot and it's great to hear of a book that focuses on a strong friendship. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy! Great Review x
    My recent post TIPS: Book Blogging

  2. Faye M.

    This is in my list to read soon. I have it on my kindle since it was released, just haven't had the time to get into it. Haha. In any case, I'm not a fan of Contemporary, but this always interested me – the fact that so many love it and placed it in their Best Books of 2014 makes me excited even more! This is truly what finding yourself means – to go out of your comfort zone and try out things you never before dared yourself of doing!
    My recent post ARC Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

    • I know, after seeing it arrive (it's actually around 460 pages or so) I put it off for so long, but once you get into it it's so good! I think the message behind it is wonderful as well.

    • It is quite a long book actually, which is why it took me so long to read it. I found there was quite a lot of depth, feelings of abandonment, being self conscious and not feeling good enough, finding new people to fill your heart. It was great!

    • I was the same, I totally thought this would be light and fluffy but it had a little more depth than that which was great! So great to hear you're really keen on picking it up Rach! Thank you lovely.

  3. I've owned this one for ages and have been putting it off! When I read contemporary, I'm usually in it for the romance. xD Which is why I'm scared to read this, because I find it hard to ship people with someone else when they're already in a relationship. -_- But I'm glad the friendship aspect of this one was awesome–not a lot of books focus on that and just throw the friends aside once the love interest comes in!
    My recent post Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

    • I've been the same Aimee, it took me forever to actually pick it up because it's a longer book than I expected. Yeah, the romance isn't one that I shipped, but the friendship was good.

  4. LilysBookBlog

    Oh Jeann I'm so thrilled to hear that you liked this one! This one was one of my most anticipated reads for 2014 and I was so happy it was everything I needed and more. I loved the friendship factor in the story and how it was the main focus. I love all the themes Since You've Been Gone explored, identity, friendship, growing up, growing apart….the list is endless. I'm just so thrilled to hear you ended up liking this one too Jeann!
    My recent post {Blog Tour} Transformed by E.V. Fairfall

    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it as well Lily, the friendship was a fantastic exploration into best friends and it was refreshing 🙂

  5. karawrites15

    I'm so excited to read this one. It looks fantastic–as well as hearing such great things about it, I'm looking forward to a novel that focuses on friendship, and, of course, lists. Great review! I'll definitely have to pick up a copy soon. 🙂
    My recent post The Candy Book Tag

    • If you love lists, you'll definitely love how the plot revolves around the character needing to cross things off hehe. I loved how the chapters were set out that way too.

  6. Ebony

    So glad you enjoyed this one, Jeann! This is definitely one of the best books based on friendship that I've read and I found Emily to be very relatable. I wasn't a fan of the romantic sub-plot also as I just didn't feel as though there was anything between the two from a romantic POV. Loved reading your thoughts on this one. 🙂
    My recent post Daring Damsels’ Travelling Book (2)

    • I did like Emily and how she developed over the course of the book, but the friendship and writing made it worthwhile you know? Even though the romance was a bit weird (I'm glad others felt the same!)

  7. I loved this one too, Jeann. I love how Sloane pulled Emily out of her shell even though she wasn't around to do it. Definitely highlights the kind of friendship they have.

    Great review!

  8. Joy

    Aww… I love books about friendship. There are so many romance books out there, it's so refreshing to see one that focuses on the beauty of friendships. Will add this to my TBR. 🙂

    • I know, this one was wonderful in that respect and I appreciated it put friends first and foremost you know? Hope you enjoy!

  9. I'm glad you liked this one, Jeann! I gave it four stars, too.

    I was actually really annoyed by Emily's self deprecating nature when it came to her friendship with Sloane. I just felt like shaking her and telling her that she was a person, too. *shakes head*

    Although, that being said – at least the growth of Emily as a person over the span of the book was really believable.

    I wasn't entirely in love with the romance (but I was entirely in love with Frank). I mean, like you said, you just don't become BFFs with guys who have girlfriends. It's just weird.
    My recent post Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

    • Thanks Chiara, I just found it so unique in that it focused on the friendship that wasn't bitchy you know? Yes, I just wanted to give Emily a big hug. I'm glad she came to the realisation that she WAS good enough though. The romance was definitely something I wasn't convinced on.

  10. Go books that promote friendships that are real and true and genuine (all those words are basically synonyms, aren't they?)! I don't actually think this would be a book I'd enjoy, personally, though I've heard pretty good things about it. I'm going to read Morgan Matson's Epic-Detour book first, though I suppose if I adore that I'll be giving this a go, anyway! (:

    Lovely review, Jeann! x

    • I know, I wish there was more like that but it's surprising that there aren't you know? Sounds like you've got a good plan Romi.

    • I know, and I've read a fair few where the friendships were really bitchy and dramaticised so it was refreshing y'know? Thanks Genie!

  11. I must have this at once!

    Apart from what sounds like Frank being unfaithful, this book sounds like something I'd absolutely adore. It sounds as though it has an underlying sadness as Slone just vanishes, but I love the adventure of having to complete the list. But the ending has me a little unnerved whether the list leads to a happy ending. I'm not sure I could go through all that only to have a John Green open ending pulled on me.

    Does it have a conclusion?

    Brilliant review Jeann, I really want to read this one now <3 And love the retro cover!
    My recent post The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

    • Yeah, I wasn't sure what was going on with Frank and they approached it very innocently, but still. There definitely was a sadness when Sloane left, and it was a great adventure. It did have a wonderful ending Kelly, definitely no JG ending here! Hope you'll enjoy it lovely.

  12. cristinasbookreviews

    Sometimes I need more chick flick in my life and I never get a chance to read it. Clearly, I need to make time for it! And I love any story that includes a bucket list of sorts. ♥

  13. I'm slowly making my way into contemporary-land this summer and I'm a tad nervous. Matson seems to be the go-to, right? I've got Second Chance Summer lined up but will definitely have to give this one a go as well, especially since everyone else (and you!) has raved on and on about this one. I love a good tale about a friendship (so rare) but I think I'm just going to be as uncomfortable as you were with the romance. I'm definitely not a fan of the whole already has a girlfriend thing. BUT I am intrigued. Fantastic review, Jeann! <33
    My recent post Why Am I So Eloquent In Negative Reviews?

    • I didn't even know she had other books, but I really enjoyed her writing in this one. It's not quite light and fluffy but it adds a bit of depth. The friendship is a good focus but yeah, that romance was a bit discomforting. Slightly.

  14. I will be reading this one for sure because I love the idea of the main focus being the friendship between the girls.
    The romantic subplot is the only thing giving me pause, because it hits too close to home for comfort right now.
    Fantastic review, Jeann!
    My recent post Waiting On Wednesday #70!!

  15. loonytuney

    Yay so glad you liked it!! How good was this one? I loved the friendship aspect. Yeah, a bit weird that Emily got so chummy with Frank – and that whole lack-of-communication thing towards the end annoyed me. But still really loved it <3

    • I know, it was so different to what I expected but I ended up really enjoying it! I know, I thought the explanation at the end was kind of convenient, but yes did enjoy it.