My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: LOVED this book
What it’s about:
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?
“Real friends are the ones you can count on no matter what.
The ones who go into the forest to find you and bring you home.
And real friends never have to tell you that they’re your friends.”
I think Morgan Matson just became one of my favorite authors. Each and every book I’ve read by her so far has been an absolutely perfect summery contemporary read. And I think I like Since You’ve Been Gone the most of all those great books so far, so that’s really saying something.
This book just hit all my buttons. A relatable main character? Check. Amazing but realistic friendships? Check. Slow burn romance? Check. Summer adventures? Check. Lists? Check, check, check!
Emily made it to my own list of favorite heroines of all time. Why? She is just so fun and relatable. I felt like she was me most of the time (Except for the running. Ugh, I hate running). She’s a shy and socially anxious person, but I felt like she was portrayed very realistically and so was her character development. I was a bit worried that this would be one of those books glorifying the extravert ideal that would have Emily do a complete 180° by the end of the book. But I should not have been worried. Emily grows a lot throughout the book, but she doesn’t lose herself in the process. On the contrary, she becomes more like herself and that was beautiful to watch.
“I was still a little amazed that this was happening. That this, the thing that had seemed so impossible, so terrifying, so utterly beyond me, was happening. I was having fun. And that I was the one who made it happen. “I did it,” I said out loud, sendind my voice up to the stars above me, not really caring if the others heard me.”
I also absolutely loved the friendships in this book, but I must admit I did not love Sloane. Maybe it was the selection of flashbacks used in the book, but I did not feel like she was a very good friend to Emily. Not only did she completely ignore Emily when a boy was in the picture, she also made her do things she knew made her extremely uncomfortable. And when Emily actually stood up for herself and said no to her antics (go Emily!), while still being a nice friend and waiting for her for hours (!), Sloane still had the nerve to get angry at her and made her feel guilty and bad about herself. Just… no. No, no, no. (Can you tell I did not like Sloane?)
“You’re so scared of things sometimes, and for no reason,” Sloane said, her voice quieter. “And sometimes, I wish…” She didn’t finish the sentence, just let it hang in the car between us.
I wished it too – whatever it was that in that moment Sloane wanted me to be, that I was falling short of.”
I did love the new friendships Emily made. Frank, Collins, Dawn and her just seemed to all fit together like they were meant to be and really, I’m a sucker for good friendships so I devoured it all.
The romance was perfect as well. It’s not the main focus of the book, but what we have is just right and just how I wanted it. It’s a super slow burn that grows from a friendship and was very respectful and beautiful. The scenes we get are amazingly swoon-worthy.
“I know things might not work, and I know it’s scary, but the things that are worth it are. It feels right.”
But the amazing heroine, friendships and romance really get to shine because of the plot. Maybe I’m just list-obsessed, but the combination of the to-do list, the summer adventures and just the whole concept of overcoming your fears and making memories with friends is what made this book so good for me. This is the summer I would love to have. This is the kind of summer people dream about. This is the kind of summer that should be made into a movie. I laughed, I cried, I swooned. I want to re-read it all over again.
I also just want to briefly mention the List. I thought it was a perfect list. Sure, it didn’t all include super big scary things, but everything on that list felt just right. It didn’t need to include all huge scary life-changing things. It’s often the little things that take more bravery anyway. Plus this list enabled Emily to slowly become herself and make memories that will last a lifetime. So I do need to give Sloane some credit for that. She couldn’t have made a better list.
Bonus points go the the use of flashbacks, which was very cinematic. Only downside? Minimal parental involvement (even though it’s very well explained, so I’m nitpicking here).
Conclusion: if you love summery reads, friendships or lists, give this book a try.
“I somehow knew that the particulars didn’t matter. She was my heart, she was half of me, and nothing, certainly not a few measly hundred miles, was ever going to change that.”
“It just gets hard, always being someone’s second choice”
“I don’t think you have to do something so big to be brave. And it’s the little things that are harder anyway.”
“[…] I was trying not to think about how acutely aware I was that there were two types of people – the type who could talk to anyone and make friends with them, and the type who spent parties hiding and sitting against trees.”