Since You’ve Been Gone
This is a book that I picked up at the Texas Library Association annual conference. One of the great things about going to the conference, I discovered, was finding new authors or even new books by some of my favorite authors. When I was sorting through the books that I picked up and trying to decide what to read first, I settled on this one for no particular reason. Mostly it seemed like a good summer read on a good topic. But, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Where I initially expected fluff and a quick, “fun” read, I found a novel with real substance. I loved every minute of reading this book.
Summary: Emily has always been the quiet side of the dynamic duo of Sloane and Emily. She’s quieter, more in the shadows, and content to just tag along on Sloane’s adventures. And Sloane has plenty of adventures planned for this summer…until she’s just not there. Emily can’t imagine a summer without Sloane. But, Sloane has left something behind – a list of 13 tasks designed to pull Emily out of her comfort zone and into the world. Emily’s not sure that she’s up for everything on the list, but she knows she has to do something. Maybe this summer can still be the epic summer it was planned to be after all.
What I Liked: I loved that this book was real. I could really relate to Emily. Her struggles to come out of her comfort zone really rang true with me, and I could picture myself (or remember myself) facing similar challenges. And, Emily didn’t always succeed the way that she wanted to. The author avoided having the story work out perfectly all the time, because that’s just not realistic. I also felt that the author really captured the raw emotions associated with losing someone. It’s easy to think that death is the only way to lose someone, but distance and losing touch and other factors also count as loss. As someone who’s lost people to a variety of factors, I could really relate with the emotions and complexity that the author portrayed.
What I Didn’t Like: Once again, this turned out to be one of the books that I absolutely loved. The one thing that I found a little frustrating with this book was the use of the running playlists. They seemed to be important to the characters and added to the plot, but at the same time, I wasn’t familiar with many of the songs and felt like I was missing some of the subtleties of the plot. I felt like the playlists should have been better explained or perhaps not as many included in the story. But, I loved at the end how the playlist was incorporated as part of the story.
Overall Feeling: This was a great book and one that I highly recommend reading. I felt like this book really spoke to me and that I connected with the characters. I loved that this book encouraged me to explore my own emotions and look critically at my own responses to situations. Even though it was a work of fiction, I felt like this story really had a purpose and a message for the readers. You can enjoy it just as a good story, but I think you do yourself a disservice. This is a book meant to be enjoyed thoroughly, read repeatedly, and shared.