Saturday, 21 June 2014

review: since you've been gone

From Goodreads:

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...

Let me start off with a little disclaimer: Since You've Been Gone is, without a doubt, my favourite book I've read so far this year. I love everything I've read by Morgan Matson and would probably pay to read her grocery lists, just because she writes that beautifully. Seriously, I'm already going through withdrawals and I'm kind of dying a little bit inside because I have no clue when her next book is coming out. But, I digress. 


The relationship dynamics - This book puts a refreshingly strong focus on the dynamics of friendship over the romantic aspect of the story - Emily is so completely focused on finding her best friend, she doesn't even begin to consider Frank as a potential love interest until much later in the story. I find that often with YA lit, the relationship between friends takes second place to romance. The fact that Matson switches this around and leaves romantic relationships as kind of an afterthought is just awesome. Even more, I loved how at the beginning of the book, when Frank is introduced, it isn't even mentioned that he has a girlfriend. Because it's honestly that irrelevant to Emily at that point in time. There's no whining about the unattainable guy, there's no love - or even attraction - at first sight. He's just some guy from school that she's seen around who becomes a friend over the summer. This is probably my favourite part of the book, to be honest. 

Sloane - I want a friend like Sloane. My high school self would have benefited so much from a Sloane in my life, I just want one. At some points in the story I was starting to get scared that it would end with Emily and Sloane not being friends anymore, and that would have just ruined me. 

Emily's transformation - I loved seeing Emily come into her own during the course of this book. I know everyone says stuff like this, but I could see a lot of myself in Emily at the beginning of the story, feeling so lost without her best friend. It made me proud in a weird way to watch her grow up and become confident on her own. It's very inspiring! 

The new friends - Frank, Collins, and Dawn play such a huge role in helping to break Emily out of her shell without even realizing what they're doing. They adopt this lonesome little lost puppy into their lives and help her find who she is outside of Sloane. 

Frank - Duh. (But in all seriousness, the fact that Frank isn't this total alpha-male hot guy is awesome. Their runs together were awesome. His wheezing and not being super athletic and strong was awesome. Frank is awesome.) 


The whole Sam/Gideon storyline - This isn't really even a con, it just felt kind of unnecessary to me. Like, I didn't really get why seeing Gideon after not even dating was such a big deal? I know that the flashbacks were meant to show how strong and unbreakable Sloane and Emily's friendship was, so I guess there's that. I can't even say I have an issue with this, so let's not even count it as a con. This book is perfect. 

Final Thoughts:

Since You've Been Gone is one of those rare books that has a perfect mix of friendship, romance, and self-discovery that's really hard to balance in a way that works just right. It's unique in its fixation on strong, true friendships over love, and it tells a story of growing up and finding who you are once the person who defines you is gone. This book is about taking chances, being independent, and doing things you've never done before. I think everyone should read this book, it really is amazing. 

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