Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson 

I love the cover of this book! It’s so summery and cute. It makes me think of school holidays and hanging out with my friends. 

From the blurb:

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?

Emily and Sloane have been best friends for 2 years. Sloane is bright, bubbly and brimming with confidence. Emily is quiet, shy and relies on Sloane to push her out of her comfort zone. 

The school year has finished, and summer spreads out in front of Emily & Sloane full of possibility. Emily plans on making this the best summer ever; her parents, who are both playwrights and teachers, are caught up writing a new play and her brother is obsessed with the new extreme indoor sports centre. Emily can’t wait to start hanging out with Sloane, unencumbered by her parents, curfews or babysitting her brother, but Sloane isn’t answering her messages or calling her back.  

Emily goes over to Sloane’s house to find her parent’s car gone and no one answering the door. She assumes that they must have gone away for a few days, and is still worried that Sloane hasn’t been in contact, but assumes she will tell Emily everything when she gets back. 

Until the letter arrives… Sloane has sent Emily a list of 13 tasks to complete throughout the summer. Sloane has set Emily similar lists when Emily was going on holiday, usually with the rider that she has to find Sloane and tell her when she has completed all of the tasks. This time there is no message to find Sloane, and the letter has no return address. 

Emily decides to complete the tasks in the hope that the list will somehow lead her to Sloane. 

However, completing the tasks without Sloane is more difficult than Emily realised; she relies on Sloane to help her interact with people and is very socially awkward. Without Sloane, Emily starts to make friends with new people, including Dawn who works at the pizza parlour, Collins who is the class clown and Frank Porter A.K.A. Mr Class President. 

As she starts to become more confident without Sloane to hide behind, Emily starts to cross things off of the list; she finds herself doing things she never thought possible, but will she be able to find her best friend? 

This is such a lovely story, I love the characters and the way that the book is interspersed with play lists.  The story goes back and forth between the present time and previous Summers, and you learn a lot about Sloane, Emily and their friendship that way. I don’t want to say too much, because spoilers, but I feel really sorry for Sloane, who it seems needed Emily a lot more than she realised.

Let me know in the comments if you have read this book, and if you have any summery contemporary books to recommend. 

Cheerio!

Stephani Xxx 

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