Author: Mary Jennifer Payne
Expected Publication Date: February 17th, 2015
Publisher: Dundurn Group
Number of Pages: 224
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she’s in a different country.
Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn’t come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.
Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.”
Since You’ve Been Gone is not necessarily the worst book I’ve read off of Netgalley. On the contrary, I found it decent.
I enjoyed the book itself. It was a really fast read and the smooth writing helped aid the process. I have no issues with the writing. I found it realistic and refreshing. A change from some of the rehashed, boring narratives. It reads exactly like a diary. In other words, Edie, the protagonist had a clear voice throughout the book. I could imagine her talking.
On the other hand, I really hated all of the characters. I felt like all of them were awful people and I simply could not stand Edie in the beginning. She treats some of her new classmates awfully and it annoys me because I feel like she has experienced the underdog treatment. Her history is of someone that constantly moves and has to change schools. Therefore, I have reason to believe that she had, at some point, been a victim of bullying. So why doesn’t she have more compassion for Imogen or Jermaine? Not only this but she steals donation money just so she can eat and find her mom. Okay I made that sound bad. But she could have easily gotten the money from somewhere else.
Something that really boggled my mind was when Edie talked about why she didn’t like London. She used “racially motivated murders” as one of her reasons. I call bullshit. Apparently Edie is blind to all of the racial tension that exists in the United States. Just because it’s not all up in your face doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. We just had the Michael Brown controversy for heaven’s sake! Racial discrimination is something that exists in all countries. I guess you could say this is another personal pet peeve. I just hate how Edie is so ignorant of world problems, especially one that is so popular.
“We walk around without speaking for a few moments. The more I find out about London, the less I like it. Racially motivated murders, knife-wielding psychopaths on buses … not to mention people who decided to blow themselves and everyone around them up on the subway.” Page 152.
Something that irked me was the way that one of the characters blatantly ignores her family’s values. Again, this is personal preference because I hated the way that she lied to them and in a way, stomped on their Islamic values (I’m assuming she’s a Muslim because she has a hijab, full-body coverage, and is of Middle -Eastern descent). After learning a lot about Islam in my history classes, the way she treated the religion kind of annoyed me.
Although I can say that my dislike of the characters may be entirely based on my own controversial opinions, I do wish that they had been explored more. She had a pretty good cast but I felt like they were used as fillers rather than as actual people.
Plot-wise, I found the book very predictable. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a secret that her father was abusive but if it was, I guessed it at the beginning. I’m still trying to figure out how the heck they managed to get airplane tickets to London and how her father still has his job if he’s always taking break to chase after them, but eh whatever.
What I did find a little unreasonable was how everything seemed to fit perfectly for them. I don’t think finding someone in London would have been that easy. I felt like Edie should have had more anxiety and emotions regarding her mother than she did. She did have them, but I never felt the suspense that should have accompanied that discomfort. The ending was, in all honesty, very very anti-climatic and rushed.
Plus suddenly Edie is a saint. She apologizes for all of her bad behavior and spouts out this cheesy crap about how she learned that she’s not the only person that has troubles in her life. Okay, good job Edie you learned all of this, but when? I saw almost no development in her character change and it made her seem…. out of character.
As anyone can see, I really didn’t like the characters in this book. But in my case, it wasn’t severe enough to hinder the enjoyability of the book.