Published by Simon & Schuster on May 6, 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? 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...
I probably would not have picked up Since You’ve Been Gone, if not for the all of the enthusiastic reviews. The synopsis seemed a bit light – maybe silly, even. But oh, was I WRONG!
Emily and her best friend, Sloane, have polar opposite personalities. Sloane is the shining extrovert, and Emily is her painfully shy sidekick. They met a few years before in a “meet cute” way that is more typical of couples in romantic comedies. As soon as Emily sees Sloane, she makes it her mission to befriend her. That mission is soon accomplished, and the girls become inseparable.
Emily’s social status is elevated, and she becomes known as “Sloane’s friend.” That’s not much of an identity, but it’s enough for Emily, and it opens up doors that were previously closed for Emily. It’s not that those doors were inaccessible, it’s just that Emily was too scared to go through them until she had Sloane by her side to push her through.
There were many times when I thought this friendship was too intense on both sides, but particularly for Emily. She was much too dependent on Sloane, and it seemed like almost all of her self-worth was wrapped up in Sloane. But this is probably not atypical of some teenage girl friendships, and hopefully girls soon grow out of it.
The first cracks starts to form when Sloane gets a boyfriend. Suddenly Sloane finds herself on the back burner, and she (very awkwardly) gets involved with Sloane’s boyfriend’s best friend, just to keep that connection with Sloane. The cracks turn into a canyon when Sloane and her family disappear one day. The only word Emily gets is a letter that arrives from Sloane with a list of thirteen random tasks she wants Emily to complete. Some of them seem impossible, like kissing a stranger, but Emily is convinced that completing this list will lead her to Sloane. So, she dives in.
The completion of this list, and the lengths to which Emily will go to do it, would be enough to form a good story on its own. But Morgan Matson doesn’t stop there. She also adds a romantic interest for Emily in the form of Frank Porter, her neighbor and classmate. There is a “will they get together or won’t they” aspect that runs almost the entire length of the book. That has the potential to be tedious and grating, but here, it’s sweet and genuine. I was rooting for these two so hard! This is one of the best friendships/romances I’ve ever read, comparable to Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.
While Emily is checking off items on Sloane’s list and making us gush over Frank, the question remains: Where did Sloane go, and will Emily ever find her? You’ll have to read the book to find out. But I can tell you that Sloane would be thrilled over Emily’s growth and the way that the list helped to free her.