Book review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Real friends are the ones you can count on no matter what.  The ones who go into the forest to find you and bring you home.  And real friends never have to tell you that they’re your friends.

I’ll admit it.  I’m a sucker for a pretty cover.  And, to be perfectly honest with you, the cover is the only reason that I picked this book up.  Sure, I’d heard good things about Morgan Matson.  Yes, the book does have a pretty high average on Goodreads.  And sure, the plot sounded interesting enough.  But the cover was the only reason I got it.  I’m shallow like that sometimes.

Sometimes you can’t judge a book by its cover.  But in this case, you definitely can.  It just looks like a cute, summery read, and it absolutely is.

Sloane and Emily are the kind of best friends that are joined at the hip.  The kind of friends that aren’t really Sloane and Emily, two separate people, but more like sloaneandemily, a joint entity.  Emily almost feels like, if Sloane disappeared, she might cease existing as well.  And honestly, Emily’s okay with that, because Sloane brings out the best in her.  When Sloane’s around, Emily doesn’t have to worry about whether she’s being weird.  About whether people are judging her.  She doesn’t have to rack her brain for appropriate things to say, they just pop out when Sloane’s with her.  And for someone like Emily, who has always lived firmly inside her comfort zone, surrounded by her protective shell, being friends with someone like Sloan is freeing.

Sloane and Emily were supposed to have the most epic summer of their lives.  They’d planned everything out down to the last detail.  And then Sloane disappears.  Vanishes without a trace.  Her house is empty.  She doesn’t answer her phone.  Nobody knows where she went.  It’s almost like she never existed in the first place.  But then Emily receives a list from Sloane.  Thirteen dares designed to pull Emily out of her shell.  And, Emily thinks, maybe by finishing the list, she can find out where Sloane is hiding.

Some of the items on the list are pretty straightforward, like “dance until dawn.”  Others require a little more detective work, like “55 S. Ave. Ask for Mona.”  And some, for sheltered, introverted Emily, are just plain terrifying.  Like “go skinny-dipping.”  But Emily dutifully works all summer long to complete this list, finding help in the form of the cute class president, his wacky friend, and a pizza delivery girl that Emily just met.

Of course, romance ensues along the way, and it turns out to be one of the absolute cutest romances I read in the entirety of 2016.  But the romance isn’t really the focus of the book.  No, the focus of the book is Emily coming to terms with herself without the best friend that she always defined herself by.  And no, Emily doesn’t learn that it’s pointless to be shy and that, in order to live her best life, she must suddenly become extroverted.  (This isn’t another teen movie.)  Emily does learn, though, how to push her boundaries and gain the courage to do the things she’s always wanted to do.

I absolutely adored this book, and it really cemented Morgan Matson as one of my new favorite authors.  Excuse me while I read the rest of her catalog.

Final rating: ★★★★★