I picked up this book because it had been on my radar for a while and I was in the mood for contemporary romance and I found myself in a bookstore. I did not expect it to affect me as much as it did.
Before Sloane, Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, and she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—someone who yanks you out of your shell.
But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. There’s just a random to-do list with thirteen bizarre tasks that Emily would never try. But what if they can lead her to Sloane?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Wait…what?
Getting through Sloane’s list will mean a lot of firsts, and with a whole summer ahead of her—and with the unexpected help of the handsome Frank Porter—who knows what she’ll find.
Go Skinny Dipping? Um…
This book was great. I love the premise, especially because the “you” that is missing isn’t a guy. I liked that so much of the book was driven by friendship–even the romance. The strong friendship theme helped to keep Since You’ve Been Gone from falling flat as a cliche contemporary romance–which it could have been, if the only plot line running was the romantic one.
Emily was the perfect protagonist for the story. She was a naturally introverted person who had been pulled out of her shell by the extremely extroverted Sloane. When Sloane disappeared, she reverted back to her awkward, unsocial self. I could easily relate to Emily, and I found the things that Sloane’s list pushed her to do sort of inspired me. I appreciated that though Sloane’s list pushed Emily out of her comfort zone, Emily’s character never fundamentally changed. If she had suddenly become an extrovert, it would have made the book feel fake. Instead, it felt real, as Emily pushed herself to take chances and live a little without losing her personality.
I liked the way the list played out. Each chapter was titled with whatever item on the list would be completed in those pages, but often the title did not match the item Emily was planning to cross off. The fact that plans went wrong and randomly helpful events that occurred instead added to the sense that this book could actually happen. I also liked the things Sloane chose for the list; they were random and embarrassing enough to push Emily out of her comfort zone, but there were also ones that were personally tailored for them and that tied into the friendship. The inside joke nature of these dares made me appreciate Sloane and Emily’s friendship more.
The book starts with Sloane already gone, so the only glimpses the reader gets into their relationship is through flashbacks. The long flashback scenes the author included were as full of life and energy as the others, but they did not clearly tie in to the scene that was happening around the flashbacks. I would have appreciated it more if the flashbacks clearly echoed or tied in to what was happening in the “actual” story. That could have made what was a fairly well written book into something really special.
Ahh, but the romance. I loved it. It did not dominate the plot, but it pushed it along. Emily and Frank genuinely started out as friends, and I liked that Frank had a girl friend when the book began. It sounds horrible, but it let Emily and Frank develop a friendship that felt real and solid before the signs started showing that they were developing feelings for each other. They were not the perfect OTP-type couple, but they felt honest and good for each other. Frank actually had a personality, and the relationship developed with just the right amount of drama. All in all, very well done.
I would recommend this book to anyone in the mood for a contemporary romance that pushes beyond the cliche boundaries. The plot is well-paced and entertaining. I loved the focus on friendship. And in the world of inspiring books, I think this one actually pushed me to try to do things that are outside my own comfort zone.