cover image Since You’ve Been Gone

Since You’ve Been Gone

Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4424-3500-1

Emily Hughes’s best friend Sloane has disappeared without a trace—Emily has called, texted, and driven by her house, but it’s as though Sloane and her family have ceased to exist. Then, one of Sloane’s famous “to do” lists mysteriously shows up, with 13 directives for Emily, including “Kiss a stranger,” “Go skinny-dipping,” and “Dance until dawn.” In Sloane’s absence, the list—full of things she knew Emily would find fun, but a challenge, too—defines Emily’s summer, helping her meet new friends (including cute Frank Porter), come out of her shell, and find a way to hang on to Sloane. Despite the novel’s missing-friend hook, Matson (Second Chance Summer) primarily focuses on Emily’s progress with the list (the resolution of the question “What happened to Sloane?” is the weakest part of an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable story). Matson’s characters feel like familiar, comforting friends, even Sloane, who readers glimpse in periodic flashbacks. It’s a sweet, leisurely read with a title that, thanks to Kelly Clarkson, begs to be shouted out loud. Ages 12–up. Agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (May)