Archive for the ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ Category

Yes, I know. I should have posted this a few months ago. Better late than never???

Andie Walker’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her summer program at Johns Hopkins fell through. Her Congressman father is under investigation. In the five years since her mother died, Andie’s been left in her Connecticut home in the care of sitters while the Congressman is in Washington. Now he’s home, thinking he can be the father he hasn’t been in five years. However, there is an awkwardness in the air. They have nothing to say to each other and now she’s got a curfew.


The bad news is that the only summer job Andie could get was walking dogs. The good news is that this is the first summer in several years that her ‘group of four: Andie, Palmer, Bri and Toby’, will all be home for the summer.

The bad news is that before she even started her job she got slobbered over by a runaway dog. The good news is that particular dog walker was kind of cute.

Morgan Matson, author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, Since You’ve Been Gone and Second Chance Summer, is a master of the summer time romance. As you know, I rank her up there with the established Sarah Dessen and newcomer Emery Lord (by the way, her new book When We Collided should be on your reading list).


When you pick up The Unexpected Everything you know there will be romance and the inevitable breakup, there will be unrest among the group of four, there will be father-child consternation. But isn’t that what you expect in a ‘beach read’, which this clearly is (and I mean no disrespect by it). I will admit that it took me about 50 pages to start getting into the book, but once I did, I didn’t want to put it down.

The cover of The Unexpected Everything utilizes the ice cream theme found on Since You’ve Been Gone. With the addition of a gaggle of dogs (is that what a bunch of dogs is called?), the cover makes the book totally inviting. Ice cream and dogs. Made for summer.

So, if you haven’t read Morgan Matson, you should start. If you have read her books, this is a welcome addition to her library.

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Most of you know two things about me by now: (1) I do like young adult chick litAmyAndRoger (OK, romance!) and (2) I feel compelled to seek out independent bookstores wherever I am and buy something. The problem with working in a library and also reviewing books for library journals is that I have most of the books that I want at my fingertips.

So, when I found myself in Northshire Books in Saratoga Springs this past week it was tough finding a book I wanted to buy. (As an aside, Northshire Books is a great bookstore. Two levels, the upper level children’s and young adult. I could have browsed there for hours…actually I did, on two separate occasions.)

SecondChanceSummerMy purchase, however, finally ended up being Morgan Matson’s debut novel Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, her other books being Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone. Although I have a long history reading and loving Sarah Dessen’s books, Ms. Matson is certainly moving up the ladder and is challenging Ms. Dessen for the top YA Chick Lit spot.

In March, Amy was driving and involved in an accident. Her father was in the passenger seat and was killed. Rather than rallying around each other, her mother and twin brother, Charlie, seemed to withdraw into themselves, not talking at all about what happened. What was worse was that she was her father’s favorite. They shared so much and suddenly he was gone.

In an abrupt move, Amy’s mother, a college professor took a job across the country in Connecticut. She left in May after putting their California home on the market, leaving Amy alone in California to finish school and then drive their car to the East Coast. However, since Amy stopped driving after the accident, her mother recruited Roger, a friend’s son to drive with Amy as passenger. Amy, Charlie and Roger used to play together eons ago.SinceYouveBeenGone

Amy needs to get to Connecticut but Roger has an ulterior motive for taking the cross country trip. While Amy’s mother has plotted out a 4 day route, made motel reservations and everything, Amy and Roger decide it might be worth it to take a ‘road trip’. I’m sure you can guess the ending, but in this particular case, the journey (no pun intended) is delightful. Ms. Matson’s inclusion of Playlists, photos, receipts, drawings and more just add to the enjoyment. In an afterward, she mentions that she is a road trip fan and actually took the trip about which she is writing.

By the way, my favorite character is Bronwyn, who plays a small but pivotal role. She a combination of southern hospitality and wisdom.

I’d suggest that Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is a great beach read, but while it is 60+ degrees out (in November), I’m not sure if it’s beach weather. So, instead, settle down on the couch, get a drink of some sort, fluff up the pillow and meander through Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour.

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Sarah Dessen may have some competition with love stories, in the form of Morgan Matson.  SinceYouSince You’ve Been Gone is Matson’s latest book. And while the premise reminds me a bit of Maureen Johnson’s Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes (having a list of things to do that takes you out of your comfort zone), Since You’ve Been Gone stands on its own as an enjoyable read.

Emily’s best friend, Sloane, has disappeared. Emily came back from vacation to find no one home at Sloane’s house. She doesn’t return texts or phone calls. A week goes by. Two weeks. No Sloane. Emily and Sloane were a team. They talked/texted constantly. They went everywhere together. Emily was the shy one and Sloane the outgoing one. They complemented each other. What is Emily without her?

Then one day her mother tells her she got mail. It’s a letter from Sloane, or rather a list of 13 things Emily must do. Such things as skinny dip, hug a Jamie, steal something. The first thing she tries is going to the Orchard, a former orchard which has become a hangout. Usually she’d go with Sloane. But now she’s got to go alone. There she sees Frank Porter.

Frank. The senior class president. In the running for valedictorian. Boyfriend to Lissa. When she finds she is out of gas, Frank takes her to a local gas station. In return for the favor, he asks Emily to teach him how to long-distance run, since she’s on the cross country team. Thinking it’ll never happen, she agrees.

But of course, Frank keeps turning up. While Emily’s jogging. At the drive in. At the Orchard. What’s going on? They ultimately become friends and spend a lot of time together, especially since Lissa is in Princeton for a summer program.

I’m sure you can guess the rest, but even if you can, it’s the journey, not the destination that’s fun. And…what about Sloane?

Since You’ve Been Gone is a great summer romance read.

P.S. I also liked Second Chance Summer, so give that one a try as well.

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