Things that I love: YA literature, imperfect relationships, really good playlists, a road trip.
Things Since You’ve Been Gone has: YA story telling, imperfect relationships, really good playlists, a road trip.
It’s safe to assume I really liked this book. It was an impulse buy. I was having a bad day last week and wanted to cheer myself up. I really enjoyed Matson’s book Amy and Rodger’s Epic Detour so I figured, why not? It was a rare move of brilliance on my end. While some could consider the book about the romance of Emily and Frank, I read it as a story about friendship between Emily and Sloane.
Emily is the kind of girl who just floats through life. She’s not a popular girl, never one to be invited to parties. She probably has a few friends, but no one to really hang out with. Then, about two years before the events of the book, she meets Sloane. Sloane is a magnet for life, the kind of girl who makes friends everywhere she goes. She lives to have adventures, to try new things, to be the center of attention. The center of the world. And then one morning, Sloane is just…gone. Her phone goes to voicemail, her house is dark. In the middle of the night, she and her parents disappeared and Emily is left alone, confused. The girl who, for two years, was the center of her world, is gone.
For me, this story was about how Emily rebuilt herself and her life. Sloane was the kind of girl who shone so bright, Emily was dimmed. Over the course of the summer, and using the mysterious list Sloane has mailed her, Emily starts to find that she doesn’t need someone to orbit around anymore. There’s a lot of discovery, both about herself and about her friendship with Sloane. I liked that Matson showed the cracks in the friendship between the two girls. Teen friendships are never really what the appear to be on the surface, are they? There was some darkness, particularly as Emily remembered a night involving Sloane’s then-boyfriend. You got to see a little bit of the downsides of friendships, the fights and the way two best friends can be so different, yet so close.
Then there’s the music. I thought Matson used playlists to a really good effect in Amy and Rodger and here, she does it again. (And, lest you wonder, I did make a compilation of all the music in the book because I am that nerdy: Since You’ve Been Gone: A Literary Playlist.) I started making mix tapes using an ancient boom box and the radio when I was 14 or 15, and I haven’t stopped. Music can be such an important part of the story and here, it’s not just thrown in at random. The mixes mean something (especially the last one) and are very much used to further the story and as character development.
Overall this was an incredibly enjoyable book. I was hooked from the beginning and I finished it within a day. It’s an easy read, perfect for that kind of day when you just want something to cheer you up, to distract you for a little while. I just hope you don’t mind getting Kelly Clarkson stuck in your head for two days after.