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 unpexcted), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait . . . what?
Most of us are aware that sometimes friendships don’t last forever. Some friends just grow apart while others go up in a flame. But some just vanish without word or warning. Leaving you to wonder why? Is there a logical explanation to the lack of friend in your life or is there something deeper going on? Well, that is exactly the dilemma Emily is facing right now.
Sloane is, or was . . . well let’s just say they are friends. They are the kind of friends who shared everything and were inseparable. Except for now, when Emily dials Sloane’s phone and drives by her house every day, trying to reach her best friend. Yet it is obviously clear that Sloane is gone.
Then a beacon of hope appears. A list. One of Sloane’s list. And Emily gains the notion that if she completes Sloane’s list, it will lead her to Sloane. Although, some of the things on the list, like kiss a stranger, skinny-dipping, steal something . . . Emily isn’t so sure she can do. Yet Emily knows why Sloane put those things on the list, to get her out of her comfort zone and not be so stuck in her safety bubble.
There are thirteen items on the list and for her first task, Emily decides to tackle #12: Apple Picking At Night. She’s figures it’s the abandoned apple orchard that they usually hang out but Emily is confused as to why Sloane would put that on the list. Of course Emily begins to understand why when she arrives and realizes she has no friends and has no one to talk to.
She stays for a while but after an hour of looking as well as feeling pathetic and lonely, she decides to leave only to discover she has no gas in her car. But have no fear, the golden boy, goody two shoes class president Frank Porter is here to rescue her.
Frank takes her to get some gas and Emily thinks this is where the interaction will end. Frank will go home and Emily will once again be alone, missing Sloane. That is until Frank asks her for a favor, to help him run. Emily thinks this is strange but agrees, since he did help her get gas. Little does Emily know, her life is about to become less lonely.
Now Frank and her are somewhat running partners. She is also hanging out with Frank’s friend, Collins, who works with Frank at IndoorXtreme. He’s an acquired taste but she likes him all the same. She’s even spending more time with her little brother Beckett. Most importantly, she is getting things crossed off the list.
So far, Emily has gone apple picking at night, hugged a Jamie, slept under the stars, used her fake ID and broken something. She has tried to steal something, shared more secrets than she thought possible and is discovering how strangely fond of Frank she is becoming. Though the list isn’t complete, Emily doesn’t feel so alone anymore. She has made new friends and had new experiences. Yet still no Sloane.
Although Emily is coping better without Sloane, that still doesn’t mean she doesn’t want her best friend back. Sloane is still the person she wants to call first when something happens, like when she finally kisses a stranger. Sloane is still the person she wants to run and see whenever she has free time on her, though she doesn’t mind spending her time with Frank. Still, where is Sloane? Will this list bring her to Sloane? Or will Emily have to move on and possibly forget about Sloane?
As I stated earlier, most of us know friendships do not last forever. But what about when your friend just disappears without even telling you goodbye? Were you two even friends if your friend can just up and leave without saying goodbye or is there more to the story? Since You’ve Been Gone is like a crasher course in friendship and understanding what it means to be a friend. This novel is about friendship and the depths one will go for that friendship. Never abandoning someone and learning to accept a person, warts and all, and still saying, “I am your friend.” This book is also about discovering who you are and the person you could become. Learning that you don’t have to stay safe in a role but move and be whoever you want to be. And also that being you won’t affect the friendship. Most importantly it is like a guide to help those coping with the lost of a friend, those who are just missing a friend and about knowing that true friendship can withstand the test of time.
Reviewed by Camia Rhodes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 5/6/2014