Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: YA, Teen Romance
Rating: 🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜/5 (Ramen)
Blurb: “It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.
On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Um…
Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?”
click **SPOILER to reveal spoilers
Review: This book really hit the feeling of friendships, and good ol’ fashioned adventure. It is one of those books that when you read it, you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And that’s why I really loved this book.
Morgan Matson is friends with Jenny Han, which must be the reason why there book styles are similar! And I love it, next to Jenny Han, Morgan Matson is probably my second favorite author. Her books are incredibly relatable, in a fictional world. In this book, the main character Emily, is a timid, shy 17 year old, who’s idea of a Friday night is staying in. Until she meets Sloane. The new girl who’s fun, adventurous, daring, a complete opposite of Emily. Sloane brings Emily out to the world for one whole school year, and right before summer break -she disappears and leaves nothing but a list for Emily. A list of 13 things to do, to make sure Emily doesn’t revert back to her loneliness.
Emily is a completely relatable character -well I related to her. She’s often referred to as “Sloane’s friend” which she doesn’t mind, it just means she’s not outgoing like Sloane was. Emily didn’t mind being in Sloane’s shadow, just as long as she was included, and no matter how popular Sloane was, she never forgot about her. She was shy, but she clearly enjoyed going out time to time, she just needed that extra push -which came in the form of Sloane. That being said, once Sloane left, Emily spent the first half of the summer staying home, until he got Sloane’s letter, which contained a list:
1) Kiss a stranger
2) Go skinny dipping
3) Steal something
4) Break something
6) Ride a den horse, ya cowpoke
7) 55 S Avenue ask for Mona
8) The backless dress, and somewhere to wear it
9) Dance until dawn
10) Share some secrets in the dark
11) Hug a Jamie
12) Apple picking at night
13) Sleep under the starts
Not all these challenges are scene in detail in the book, but most of them are. When Emily embarks on her mission to complete the list in hopes to that leads Sloane she starts alone, but along the way she meets some incredible people. A pizza delivery girl named Dawn, Collins the short, heavyset, best friend of Frank Porter, and lastly Frank Porter. Weirdly enough she develops this odd friend group, who all make it a point to assist Em with her list -most importantly, Frank Porter. The relationships she develops is what made the story so enjoyable for me.
We’ll start with Dawn. She’s this fiery blonde that works at the local pizza place right next to the ice cream parlor Emily’s working at for the summer. She stumbled into the empty ice cream shop, in tears, after finding out her boyfriend and best friend was cheating. After Em comforts her, Dawn returns to work, and later goes back to the ice cream shop to thank Emily, and offers her a discount. Instead, Emily sees that Dawn is delivering a pizza to a Jamie and asks to tag along. She tells Dawn of her list, and they exchange numbers. She’s actually the last to participate in the list quest -but nevertheless, supportive of the crazy shenanigans that Sloane left Emily to do. She participates and helps Emily come up with ideas to complete missions. I liked Dawn, she was a good girl friend for Emily. Similar to Sloane, but less extreme. She had her morals straight, and she was a great friend whenever Emily needed to talk. However, she wasn’t Sloane, so there were a few things Emily could tell her **SPOILER. Overall a solid supporting girl character -she wasn’t over the top annoying either. She was like equal parts mellow and adventurous.
Next is Collins aka Matthew. He is the comic relief in this book. The short, chubby dude -who tagged along when Frank decided to help Emily. Collins was super into Emily’s list, he even helped her with number 1 **SPOILER. There wasn’t much one-on-one time with him and Emily, except when they planned Franks birthday, but you can tell he really liked Emily as a person. I liked Collins too even though his character was probably less prominent. He was the jokester of the four, constantly throwing out one-liners, and silly sarcasm. It was great. And his loyalty showed when it came down to Frank. He was really a great best friend. Ahh! He was just great, every thing he said made me laugh. (I’m telling you there was really no flaws with any of these characters.)
And finally there is THE Frank Porter. The all-around handsome, smart guy, who has a girlfriend throughout the whole fricken book. But she’s away on some like convention trip for smart kids (because she’s smart too). So Frank invests himself with Emily –but not in that way. I mean, it’s strictly a platonic friendship that they have, and he was definitely not the type of boy to cheat at all. But he really cares about Emily, and he’s the one that really helps her with a majority of the list. I absolutely ADORED Frank. He was such a sweetheart, not to just Emily, but to everyone. He helps out Emily’s screenwriter parents in their “Living Room Theater” (which is exactly as it sounds), helps Emily climb down from a rock climbing wall when she’s trying to get her brother (she’s deathly afraid of heights and this is where they first interact), they run together and share music playlists (music is a huge part of this book), he’s just overall a great guy, that his girlfriend clearly does not appreciate. You can tell he’s wanting that type of relationship where you talk, and you do things, and you have fun -whereas his relationship is complete opposite. Lisa, his girlfriend, seems very uptight, punctual, and straight forward girl. We only see a glimpse of her during Frank’s birthday party planning. **SPOILER and she did not leave a very lasting impression. So he finds a relationship he wants with Emily (platonically, of course) and immerses himself in Emily’s list calling it a “quest”. Their relationship is by far dynamic and the best of all three. **SPOILER.
Lastly there’s Sloane. While she isn’t very much in the present day part of the book **SPOILER, she is mentioned quite a lot in flashbacks. Many of them consisting Sloan urging Emily to step out of her comfort zone. Emily actually had a boyfriend when she hung out with Sloane -Gideon. Who she liked, but not enough to continue after Sloane left. He was mainly a default boyfriend, because he was Sloane’s boyfriend Sam’s friend. Gideon popped up a couple of times in the book too, but he was kinda of just there. You could see why Emily didn’t really care about him, he really had no personality. And kinda awkward. Two shy, semi- awkward people in a relationship only work sometimes. I saw what was intriguing about Sloane, she really brought Emily out of her shell, but I think she did it a little too forcefully, I really liked Emily, but I didn’t really care for Sloane. I get Emily got that thrill of going out and doing new things and actually having a best friend, but Sloane didn’t really seem like she cared sometimes. That being said, I did really enjoy this book. It was about coming out of your shell, but at your own pace and with supportive encouragement from friends. I really enjoyed the wacky lists Sloane had put together for Emily, and the development of Emily’s character was truly significant. You saw her confidence grow, her spontaneity arise, and her shyness change. The supporting characters really added to the story and the small hint of romance was just enough to tie this whole book together. And that’s why my rating for this book is 5/5, it was complex for a YA romance/fiction book, I liked the characters, the plot, and the development. If you’re into adventure and self development this was a really great book and I highly recommend!
Ramen: Seriously awesome, a must read
Chow mein: It was great, def add to reading list
Udon: It was satisfying, nice little way to pass the time
Lo mein: It was ok, better books out there
Soggy noodles: Not that good, do not recommend