Book: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Mary Jennifer Payne
Source: Netgalley (I received this book in exchange for an honest review)
The Basics: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."Add it on Goodreads
First I want to say that this is the first book I've read from YA fiction where I am older than the main character. This is a first for me and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. Anyways, I have to say I was somewhat excited to read this book, but the cover and the summary intrigued me so I decided to give it a shot. I tend to shy away from these type of books because I feel like there is a tendency to make it too dramatic and not properly developed. That being said I was pleasantly surprised that I liked this book, but It did let me down in some aspects.
The writing style is very simple. There isn't a lot of description within the novel. Its very much a simplistic way of writing, but in a way I felt like it did serve the book because of how fast pace it was. However because of how fast pace it was, and how simplistic the writing was I felt like I couldn't really connect with the story or the characters which for me, is a pretty fatal flaw. As a result it took me a while to even begin to get into the story and get involved. I will say that there were several well written moments, like when she goes and see's her dad, or when she first arrives at her new school.
I found the plot to be pretty straight forward but pretty unrealistic and dramatic. The whole point of the novel is for Edie to find her mom and be able to deal with what she finds out. In this aspect itself, it's pretty solid and I enjoyed it. But there were a couple moments that I felt were added just for the sake of adding drama. Like when Jermaine jumps into the water to save a little kid. It didn't really help the plot along. It just elevated the drama. Or how instead of going to the police Edie decides to go look for her mom on her own. Now, if my mom went missing you bet I would call the police. If I really needed to I would look for her myself too. But if you take out these drama filled moments and leave the essential plot, its actually not a bad story line. Aside from that, some moments I felt like the author had it spot on. There's a moment were the author tackles racism and I those moments that unveil that side of humanity were pretty good. I have to say the moments that had more of a real feel, and just fit better into the story line elevated the plot and the overall book.
I didn't really like the characters. That being said, its probably because I didn't really connect with them, and because at times I feel like there were unrealistic. Similar to the plot issues, the characters had moments that didn't seem to make sense. I definitely admire Edie. I think she's a strong character and she's pretty bad ass for the most part. I just had a hard time agreeing with her decisions. I had a hard time being able to empathize with her because I was frustrated with her the majority of the time.
Jermaine I liked. He ends up helping Edie, but the way he decided to help her seemed like a little bit of a stretch. Aside from my initial reservation, Jermaine really grew on me and I did end up liking him. I guess I should emend my earlier statement to I didn't really like the main character.
Overall it was a pretty decent read. It wasn't anything special, and personally the cheesy drama level was a little too high for me. But If you can get over the tiny stretches and the extra ommphness of it all then you should give it a shot!
Coffee for thins book: Some moments can get to be too much, both on the cheesy level and the emotional level. So I recommend a Vanilla Latte Espresso.