Parents' Guide to

Since You've Been Gone

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Charming summer story encourages taking risks, finding love.

Since You've Been Gone Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 11+

age 13+

This book was a little hard to get into at the beginning, but once Emily accepts that Sloane is gone and begins to embrace the "list" things really pick up. All in all, it is a great story about a shy girl learning how to live without her outgoing best friend. She must step out of her comfort zone and meet new people in order to grow. And by the end of the book, you see how powerful it is to really be yourself and not be under someone else's shadow. She learns that she should be grateful for her family even if they are odd at times, that it's ok to be yourself, and that friendships change and evolve over time. Note---There were a few very minor curse words and the teens do attend a few parties where drinking is going on. It is not overemphasized. The main character does share a couple passionate kisses. There is a very innocent skinny-dipping scene and she sleeps in the same tent with a boy.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (18 ):

Author Morgan Matson has quickly developed into one of contemporary YA's most delightful authors, creating thoughtful stories about friendship, family, and first love. Whereas Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour both focused on main characters grieving the loss of a parent, SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE​ chronicles a different kind of grief: the abrupt loss of a friend (who's still alive but mysteriously gone without any communication except a letter). Matson deftly captures the intimacy of teen best friendship -- how it really does feel like you're "only half" (and, in many cases, the "lesser" half) of a two-person whole. Emily sans Sloane is barely able to talk to strangers, so the list is like a farewell present that dares Emily to find out what makes her awesome all on her own.

The romance in Since You've Been Gone isn't as straightforward as it is between Taylor and Henry in Second Chance Summer, but it's a satisfying slow burn reminiscent of Amy and Roger's in Matson's first novel. The friends-to-more theme might be obvious in YA (and all romances, for that matter), but it's a much more fulfilling alternative to the "instalove" that's so prevalent in teen books. What's even better than the romance in Emily's story is that it's a tale of self-discovery. At first, Emily honestly doesn't think she's worth knowing without her more popular and outgoing best friend, so it's heartening to see her discover how captivating she is, too.

Book Details

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