Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Simon & Schuster | ARC, 448 pages
May 6th, 2014
Young Adult | Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

“I don’t think you have to do something so big to be brave. And it’s the little things that are harder anyway.” – Chapter 9, page 322

Painfully introverted Emily woke up one morning to find her best friend Sloane gone; leaving a list of tasks or clues that she’d hoped would lead to her whereabouts. For the last few months, Sloane has been responsible for bringing her out of her shell. She was her courage, and the buffer to the world where she felt the need to hide from. Now that she’s gone, accomplishing the list seems like an insurmountable task. Especially if it would include some things that she could never do without Sloane’s prodding. But this summer is the summer that Emily will shed her protective skin. She will learn what it means to face her fears, and do the things that typically makes her uncomfortable.

As fate would have it, she will also find a group of people that she could consider as friends. But most importantly, she will solve the mystery of who she truly is.  Morgan Matson’s new offering combines the meaning of true friendship and love in a story of self-discovery prompted by a list. Emily may have lost her best friend, but she found herself in the process.

It was difficult to watch Emily shrivel in the face of the things that she feared at first: talking to people, being in a crowd. She froze when she was talked to, and stutters when she’s able to form a response. However, readers will find an instant connection to her and her fears. I, myself, find it hard to walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation, much as Emily would rather shrink into an unnoticeable size so as not to be seen. I liked the slow transformation that she’s gone through as she was ticking things off her list. Slowly, she doesn’t even realize that she’s peeling off layers of herself.

I was a little on the fence with Sloane. Throughout the story, we are shown a glimpse of their past. I couldn’t decide if Sloane was being an over-bearing friend who pushed Emily to her limits, or a friend on a mission to help her shed her timidity. In the end, I saw both in Sloane, and consequently, the means to an end.

As usual, this YA novel would not be complete without the use of one tired trope: present but barely there parents. At this point, I think I should just expect it.  Regardless, this book’s saving grace really is the story of friendship between characters, which Ms. Matson wrote with so much flourish. Even Frank and Collins. Frank is the token love interest, but was unavailable through the majority of the novel. He was with someone, who was also conveniently away. Collins and Dawn provided some comical relief, but enriched the novel with their own personalities.

In summary, I enjoyed this book quite immensely. Perfect summer read, perfect story of friendship. I enjoyed Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, but have yet to read Second Chance Summer. I have a feeling Morgan Matson has found a niche in contemporary romance.



  • Just got this one at BEA and I’m really looking forward to reading it! Great review!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  • I feel like I’ve heard nothing but good things about this novel! It seems like Sloane is a pretty complex character, and the way Emily grows throughout the book sounds amazing. I’m looking forward to reading this. Fantastic review 🙂

    • Thanks, Montana. The list was definitely a great way for her to find her voice, and character. I hope you’ll read this book. 🙂

  • Great review! This is one of the books that I want to read this summer.

    • Oh most definitely, Adriana. Perfect read for the summer!

  • I FINALLY got a copy of this and I’m going to be starting it tomorrow. I went the audio route since I’ve read all of her prior books on audio and just loved them. I’m trying to finish up the audio I’m currently listening today just because I’m so excited to start this one next!! LOL Glad you enjoyed it!

    • I’m almost tempted to buy the audio book! It’ll be interesting to listen to Emily’s voice in person. 🙂

  • I like stories that involve self-discoveries and maybe, just maybe, I’ll also be able to connect to Emily based on the way you talk about her.
    I’m not so much into contemporary but this sounds like something I should try 😀

    • I hope you will, czai. I’m sure will enjoy it, even if it’s not something you read on a regular basis. 🙂

  • I never noticed that before but now that you mentioned it, you’re right. If not absent parents, there would be overbearing parents.
    I have to thank this book because this was the reason I got to read Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. This book got a lot of publicity and I got curious with the author because I have been hearing a lot of positive reviews and praises. Like you, I have yet to read Second Chance Summer, and now I am looking forward to reading this book. Great review Joy.

    • I hope you’ll read this Ella. If you can ignore the absent parents thing, this book is a great example of friendship first before romance. But when the romance happens, it’s oh so…swwwwwoooon. 🙂

      • Oh my, now you made me more excited to read this book. 🙂

  • “Emily may have lost her best friend, but she found herself in the process.” I love this line and it’s perfect for this story. Yes Emily was painfully awkward but I guess that made her transformation all the more profound. This isn’t my favorite Matson book but I still really enjoyed it. You can never go wrong with her work.

    • It is, isn’t it? I love her journey as well, to see her shine in her own way and not because of some remnant from Sloane’s spotlight. I’m considering reading Second Chance Summer, since I loved this and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. 🙂

  • Everyone really seems to like this book! I haven’t had the chance to read it yet but I’m so jealous of those who have done so already 😀 Great review!

    • Thanks, Lillie. I hope you’ll give it a try when you have the chance. It’s a fantastic story. 🙂

  • There seems to be so many good contemporaries out at the moment, to coincide with American summer I think! This does sound like the perfectly summer read. These days I don’t really notice the “parents not there” trope but when they are actually present, I’m pleasantly surprised hehe. Lovely review Joy! <3

    • Ha! Yes, and I seem to be reading a lot more contemporary this month. I really need to broaden my spectrum. 🙂

  • Aw, yay 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed this book Joy. <3 It so sound interesting. Though yeah. In most YA books the parents aren't really there at all.. which sucks. Sigh. Oh, well 😀 Amazing review sweetie. <3 So glad you ended up liking this book. I do like the cover ;p

    • Thanks, Carina. I hope you’ll read it too. 🙂

  • I am thrilled to see that you loved this Joy, I love books which depict a brilliant friendship, also I loved Matson’s writing in Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, so I have a feeling that I will end up loving this too! Gorgeous review Joy!

    • Oh yes, you will Jas. It’s the perfect summer read, or any time kind of read for that matter. Morgan knows a thing or two about romance and friendship!

  • Oh it must be so difficult for Emily there… It’s not something easy but I’m glad she was brave anough to do all that and at the same time to find who she is. I really like the idea of the story, and I confess I didn’t know this one. Thanks for the review.

    • Thanks, Melliane. I know this is not your typical read, but when you feel like you need a break from urban fantasy, and light reading is what you’re craving, you should definitely give this one a shot. 🙂

  • Christy

    Oh goodie, I want to read this. I’m not sure I’d connect with Emily though, but I want to see her growth. Haha – I don’t even care that parents aren’t present in YA books. They just get in the ways anyway. lol.

    • Yes! Don’t worry, she’ll only bother you for a couple of instances. But she finds her balls, she’s pretty phenomenal. I hope you’ll read it, Christy. 🙂

  • I still haven’t read a novel by this author before, so I’ll have to start somewhere and this one seems rather perfect. Lovely review! 🙂

    • Thanks, Keertana. Besides the absent parents thing, it’s pretty much perfect for me. 🙂

  • Sabrinamk

    Jen Ryland at YA Romantics peeked my interest by saying it was the most creative way ever to ‘get rid of the parents.’ 😛 I might have to bring this one to the beach soon!

  • Totally agree about the parents thing but I’ve mostly made my piece with it and moved past my problems! That being said I really loved this book! it was honestly just the best summer read and it had such a primary focus on friendship that was just SO UNBELIEVABLY happy lol!
    great review!

    • I have as well, but I guess it’s the only deterrent factor to this book receiving five stars. 🙂

  • I’ve come to expect the absentee parents in YA (on that subject, I think in The Fault in Our Stars I think parents are treated really well). Anyhow, I think this is a wonderful review, don’t know if I want to read this book right away but I am curious. 🙂

    • Yes! The Fault in Our Stars certainly broke the mould. At the same time, I guess it only makes sense that they’re present, since their kids are sick and all. 🙂

  • I am starting to get tired of the missing parents syndrome .-. I think it’s a pity that a lot of novels are hell bent on using this trope because parents tend to be a big part of growing up.

    I haven’t actually read anything by Morgan Matson yet (although her books are on my TBR) so while I had my eye on this one, I had no idea what to expect. I am not sure how this one will work out for me now because I can be picky about certain things .-.

    Lovely review, Joy!! 🙂

    • Me as well. I was just saying how unbelievable it is that when important things are happening in the kids’ lives, the parents are never in the picture. May it be that they’re discovering their supernatural powers, they’re falling in love, or if they’re making huge decisions in their lives, the parents seem to pick those times to disappear.

      I hope you’ll read this one, Rashika. For what it’s worth, the absent parents seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. And thank you for stopping by!

  • I don’t really notice it much but now that you mention it, you’re right! Parents are predominantly missing in YA novels. Now that’s going to bug me whenever it’s present in a book. I do agree that this is a perfect summer book and this one’s focused more on friendship which is kind of refreshing. Great review, as always, Joy 🙂

    • Thanks, luv. If you can get past the missing parents syndrome, this book is pretty much perfection. 🙂

  • I enjoyed Amy & Roger’s Epic Adventure and this does sound like a great story. Sounds like Emily used Sloan to hide behind and therefore never really embraced the world with her in the picture. Wonderful review, Joy. 🙂

    • Oh I loved Amy & Rogers too! I still have to read Second Chance Summer, though. Thanks, Rachel! <3

  • It’s kind of disappointing to hear about absentee parents, however it’s already pretty much typical in YA books. I’m really curious about the wonderful friendships you’ve mentioned here, and I really like that there’s character growth here. Great review, Joy! 🙂

    • Yeah, it’s hardly worth mentioning nowadays since we see it all the time.

  • I have been so curious about this one and I am happy to see that even though it isn’t perfect and has some rather YAish cliches you still liked it.

    • It was fun, and ultimately, that’s all we could ask for. I was entertained, and it didn’t leave my heart in tatters. 🙂