Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Title: Since You’ve Been Gone

Author: Morgan Matson

Published By: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Synopsis: It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.
On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Um…
Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what? (Taken from Goodreads)


This story looked interesting, so I decided to try it. And while this book was clean and appropriate all the way through, I did not like the morals I found being sent.

The crux of the story is that Sloane, our main character’s outgoing, daring friend, has vanished along with her family, leaving no trace—or so it appears, until Emily, the main character, finds a list Sloane left behind. Sloane was always leaving Emily lists of things to do, and so, hoping that maybe the list will lead her back to Sloane, Emily embarks on the quest to do all 13 radical things on the list. Along the way, she learns to stand on her own two feet without Sloane by her side, to be independent, to make new friends.Through the challenges, she finds herself becoming a “better” person in bravery and courageousness.

Sounds good, right? Or not.

What I did not appreciate was the way she became this “better” person. The things on the list that make her “braver” include things like “Kiss a stranger” “Steal something” “Go skinny dipping” and also one thing that involves using a fake ID to buy beer underage, all of which the main character actually does—and feels good about.

Again, there was nothing inappropriate, but I felt these morals were not sending acceptable messages. At the beginning, Emily’s first instinct is to tell her parents everything—which is why I kept reading, hoping she’d go back to that instinct—but after the list, it turns from that into getting in a car with a boy and driving over state lines without her parents’ permission (and feeling fine about it). Emily had such a good heart with good intents at the beginning of the book, and Sloane’s list turned them upside down, all the while portraying the opposite that Sloane’s list was the good thing.

One more thing I will note was that I did not like the many “Oh my God”s I saw in this book.

Though this book was pretty clean and decently written, I feel like it was just promoting the wrong thing to teens. I think the author was more trying to just send a message about becoming braver, but unfortunately, she used the wrong methods to do so. Again, a decent storyline and a satisfying ending, captivating plot and intriguing characters—but when it came down to it, the morals it sent just weren’t worth the read to me.

Negative Content:

Characters use illegal IDs to buy beer underage. Characters openly disobey parents and feel good about it.  A mixed crowd goes skinny dipping and a character spends a minute in thought about how the boy she likes is naked in the water with her. (I found this disturbing.)

Rating: 2.5

Recommended to: Not recommended.


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