Published by Simon & Schuster on May 6th 2014
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? Um...
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? Wait ... what?
Wow! Excuse me while I worship at the feet of Morgan Matson and her beautiful prose, her perfectly imperfect characters, original plots and fabulous romance. I didn’t think anything could come close to the perfection of AMY & ROGER but SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE is a worthy competitor for my FEELS!!
Without a doubt, one of the best contemporary YA novels I’ve read in a long time, SYBG introduces us to Emily, who at the start of summer, seems to have misplaced her best friend. Flighty and free-spirited, Sloane has once again disappeared with no notice leaving Emily at a loose end. When a letter shows up containing a list of tasks as widely varying as can be from getting a job to skinny dipping, Emily hesitantly embraces the challenge in the hopes it will bring Sloane back. As Emily steps out of her comfort zone she discovers that she’s also stepping out from her best friend’s shadow and for the first time in years, is experiencing life as Emily and not that girl who is friends with Sloane.
I loved Emily, I recognised a lot of myself in her; the one who hangs back and lets the other more outgoing and interesting people take centre stage as I slowly acclimate to the situation. The harsh reality of suddenly being on her own is paralysing at first but slowly Emily learns that taking risks and believing in herself isn’t as terrifying as she once thought. Making friends with Frank and Collins, two boys from school she would never have dared speak to before, helps Emily gain some confidence and with them and another new friend Dawn, they help her attack the list with gusto and make it a group task, proving to Emily that even without Sloane, she’s not alone.
I loved how the book cut to flashbacks with Sloane and how they juxtaposed with her new friends and showed the progress Emily has made without Sloane but equally as important, how vital Sloane is to Emily. She may have seemed to simply be the back-up to the more effervescent Sloane, but Emily was just as important to Sloane and gave her a sense of permanence and a sense of home she couldn’t get from her own family.
The list itself was a star all on its own. I loved the antics, awkward encounters and confidence building tasks that Emily had to complete and how she simply blossomed as each one was crossed out. Her friendship with Frank was by far my favourite part of the book. Matson knows how to write the swooniest of boys and Frank Porter was no different. I loved his quiet, solid nature and his chemistry with Emily gave me shivers of delight.
SYBG is a wonderful book about friendship, stepping out of your comfort zone and trusting your heart. Witty, emotionally touching, with characters that will make you laugh, cry and swoon so hard you’ll need smelling salts, it’s a truly gorgeous book and one for the bookshelves. Have you seen that cover?? *thud*