By Morgan Matson
Available now from Simon & Schuster BFYR
Morgan Matson, the author of AMY AND ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR, is back with another perfect slice of summer. Best friends Emily and Sloane have been planning an epic summer. But Sloane and her family are gone, packed up and left with nary a forwarding address, and Emily is left on her own. All she has is a list from Sloane of things to do. Maybe if she does them, she'll find Sloane.
The setup of SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE is a little far-fetched when you think about it. Emily, in the age of Twitter and Facebook, can't find a way to contact Sloane? But it's best just to go with it, because this book is so much fun. Emily is a bit uptight and reserved, and accomplishing the list pushes her out of her comfort zone. Yet, as she stretches her limits, her comfort zone stretches too. She also manages to make new friends and figure out who she is when she isn't overshadowed by her more dynamic friend.
I liked that SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE offers flashbacks to when Emily and Sloane were together. It shows just how far Emily's come. At the same time, it shows just how deep their friendship was and why Sloane meant so much to Emily. She doesn't seem like the best friend at the beginning of the book; however, the flashbacks show just how much Sloane trusted Emily. At the same time, Emily really needed the shove that came from being suddenly on her own.
There is a very slow-burning romance, but the main focus of SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE is friendships. Good ones, bad ones, old ones, new ones. I loved the people Emily bonded with: Frank, Collins, and Dawn. I also liked Emily's family - playwright mom and dad, daredevil brother. They're sometimes frustrating to her, but she realizes how good she has it as she gets to see some more of her new friends' parents. Also, SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE has one of the most hilarious post-makeout scenes I've ever read.
If you're looking for a funny contemporary that puts friendship - especially female friendship - front and center, then pick up a copy of SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE. If you like it, do yourself a favor and pick up Matson's short but terrific backlist.