Friday, June 6, 2014

Title: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Narrator(s): Suzy Jackson
Series: n/a
Length: 12 hrs 49 mins
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: May 8, 2014
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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? 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...

It’s going to be so hard to talk about this without being all gushy. Since You’ve Been Gone is everything I have ever wanted in a summer contemporary. It was very much a story about friendship, finding yourself, and love. I adored every second.

Emily is a bit of a wet blanket. She’s scared of just about everything and her best friend Sloane is always there to nudge her along. But that all changes because this summer, Sloane isn’t around anymore. She’s gone, no explanation, just a list. A huge list of impossible things for Emily to do.

She’s determined though, because maybe doing all these things will bring her answers to Sloane’s whereabouts. I laughed a lot reading this. I wish I had a list written for me at that age. I can only imagine the adventures I would have had.

Emily changes so much through-out this book. She really comes out of her shell. Without Sloane as her crutch, she's forced to actually live and be herself, whoever that may be. She has awkward moments, but also moments of triumph and I cheered for her through ever hurdle.

Another thing I really loved about Since You've Been Gone is the flash backs. Because Sloane is gone, and without them you wouldn't really get a feel for how deep their friendship is. The way Matson ties the snippets in with tasks on the list was great. It all flowed together so well.

As for the Narration, I think Suzy Jackson was awesome. She sounded exactly how I would imagine Emily to sound. She also Narrates Amy and Roger's Epic Detour which I plan on listening to this summer.

Since You’ve Been Gone is such a great coming of age story. There is some seriousness too, it’s not all laughs but for the most part, this book was fun as hell. My only complaint is I would have liked more info about some side characters in the end. I can’t even explain properly without spoiling but if you've read it you might know what I'm referring too. Aside from that, this book was perfection. This was my first Morgan Matson story and it will not be my last.

Yay for books about friendship! <3 

This just might be my favorite Morgan Matson book yet, and that's saying a lot considering just how much I adored Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. Morgan just has this way of getting you to experience everything that her characters are going through emotionally, and you build such a connection with them and the story that it becomes hard to let go of them once the book is over. Trust me, I also just finished Second Chance Summer, and holy wow, my cup runneth over with pain and love and longing.

And though Since You've Been Gone isn't a sad book, per se, it is still one that will tug at your heartstrings. I stressed and ached right along with Emily as she learned to cope with who she was in the wake of Sloane's absence. Because I've been there. I've been in a relationship -- friend-wise and romantically -- where I'd spent so much time in that person's company that I no longer knew who *I* was apart from them. And that's exactly what Emily is facing. A summer without Sloane, her cohort, confidante, and the only person who could even remotely make Emily come out of her shell.

And then there's the list. In adulthood, I can say that I wish someone had forced a list like that on me, made me live outside of my comfort zone for a summer. But at that age, I probably would have taken one look at that list and said, "Yeah, effin' right." Because as any shy, introverted person knows, those "simple" tasks are difficult. They take someone brave and courageous to complete. Which is one of the reasons I adored Emily's character. She wasn't brave in the beginning; she saw the list as a means to an end that would lead her to Sloane. But as she checked off each item, her confidence grew, and she was more Emily than she'd ever been before.

But we can't forget that Frank -- and others, yes, yes -- aided Emily in her quest to finish the list. The friendships that Emily developed along the way were so genuine and exactly what Emily needed. Since we didn't know Sloane's whereabouts, I often found myself wondering if all of this, not just the list but all of it, had been planned, the way everything fell together for Emily so beautifully. But I think in the end, that's just the nature of the brought people into Emily's life that she otherwise would never have truly seen. Sure, she knew Frank from school, but until this summer, she'd never even had a conversation with him.

Missing conversations with Frank would have been tragic. He is not perfect, though Emily sure had him pegged as such before they even made first contact. He is not dangerous or brooding or chiseled. Frank is just a clever boy with a surprisingly nice physique who asked Emily to help him with his running. They talk about everything under the sun, do so much together, even when it's not related to the list, and with Sloane out of the picture, Frank's the closest thing she has to a best friend until she can track hers down. Still, as close as they are, they're getting closer by the day, and there are minor complications that could potentially reset Emily back to the girl she was at the start of summer.

I loved the emphasis on friendship before everything else, though. I've noticed it's a running theme in Morgan Matson's novels, and I wholeheartedly approve. Through a series of flashbacks, we get to see who Emily and Sloane were as best friends:  how they met, how they interacted with others, how boys fit into the mix. But I think it's because of these flashbacks that I loved seeing Emily on her own even more. Sloane was the driving force behind their friendship, and it was empowering to see Emily step out of Sloane's shadow and make new friends and try new things. It was also nice to see that the author didn't only focus on that friendship but that of Emily's new friends, as well, and what Emily's entrance in their lives had changed.

I already gushed about this narrator in my Amy & Roger review (linked above), so I'll just say that I think bringing Suzy Jackson back for another Morgan Matson novel was a genius idea. It's been awhile since I listened to the other audiobook, so I had no problems whatsoever differentiating and separating Suzy as the voice of both Emily and Amy, and I thought her voice fit both characters equally. Suffice it to say, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up any novel narrated by Suzy Jackson.

Nor will I hesitate to pick up a Morgan Matson novel. Seriously. My adoration for this author's work knows no bounds. I want a hard copy of all of her books for my shelves, especially since they come with awesome little tidbits, like receipts, to-do lists, and music playlists. Those kinds of things just make the reading experience that much sweeter. But nothing is sweeter than a charming coming-of-age story of friendship, love and all the points in between, especially when it leaves a perma-grin on your face like this one did. :D

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Morgan Matson grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles but halfway though a theater degree, she started working in the children's department of Vroman's Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.

Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she moved back East to attend the New School, where she received her M.F.A in Writing for Children. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, inspired by Morgan's three cross-country road trips, was published in May 2010. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a PW "Flying Start" book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone's Book Prize. It has since been published in five different languages and six different countries.

In the meantime, Morgan moved back to California, went back to school again and in 2011 received an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.

Her second book, Second Chance Summer, was published in May 2012 and draws largely on her experiences spending summers growing up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Morgan currently lives in Los Angeles, though she loves to travel and does it whenever she can. She is currently writing another book, to be published in 2014.

Find Morgan:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TumblrGoodreads


  1. Ooh, this sounds incredible! I'm not usually keen on flashbacks, but if they're done right (and sounds like it here!) THEN I'M SO IN. I like cute summery reads...sometimes. ;) Hehe. I'm usually into the kick-butt action books, but sometimes a person needs a break from all that intense action. lol

    1. It really was.. and I'm the same way with flashbacks, but these were kinda perfect. :)

  2. Okay girls, this is on my audible wish list but now I have to get it. Great review!

    1. yay!!! My audible wish list is pretty huge. I hope you get to it soon! it's awesome.

  3. I adored this book. 5 stars for me, too, and I don't give 5 stars easily. Emily's transformation felt so real, and I had no problem believing everything about it.

    1. Yay!! So many have loved it. It makes me so happy to see that. :)

  4. I loved Since You've Been Gone as well! I think Emily's character development in this book was one of the best I've seen in a while and yes, FRIENDSHIP. I love seeing friendship stories in books and Emily and Sloane's friendship was just so lovely. I didn't listen to an audiobook of this - in fact, I haven't listened to an audiobook ever - but from what you guys have said about Suzy, I'm thinking of revisiting the story just to experience it in that form!

    1. Oh my gosh!! you so have to try an audiobook sometime! I've been able to get so much more reading done that way. :0) Glad you love this one too!

  5. I've never read any of her books!! I have seen so many amazing things about this one so I guess I really should get to reading it with both or your gushing reviews!

    1. I think this would definitely be a good one to start with if you've never read anything by the author before.

  6. I love, love this books too. I'm so glad you both enjoyed it. :)

  7. Defiantly going to check out this book-- I have been meaning to get back into contemporaries and summer is the perfect time to do so! =)

    1. Summer is SO the perfect time for some cute, fun contemporary reads! I hope you get to this one and that you enjoy it as much as we did!

  8. Good lord. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, raves about Morgan Matson but I still haven't tried out this author yet! What is wrong with me? I need to see about remedying this asap if you both loved it so much.

    Thanks for the scoop on the audiobook version, too--this sounds like a fun one for a summer road trip. ;)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. Oh, Wendy, this one would be PERFECT to listen to on a summer road trip! And it's definitely a great place to start if you've never read a Morgan Matson novel before.


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