Since You've Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone book cover
Mary Jennifer Payne


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Edie and her mother Sydney practically live out of suitcases. They move frequently. We don't find out immediately that the reason why they move is that for the last five years, they have been hiding from Edie's abusive father. Soon after the book begins, Edie has to leave behind her pet cat as they abandon Toronto for London. Edie has to adjust to her new life in a new school in a new country, but before she finds her footing in London, her mother Sydney disappears from her night job. Edie steals some cash from school and sets out with her new friend Jermaine to try to find her mother.

Since You've Been Gone is a tough story to read, a sad tale of survival. It is not a long novella and the content is unsettling mostly because it deals with hard truths like surviving physical and verbal abuse and bullying. The content is bleak enough that it would be a tough subject no matter the approach.

I do believe a lot of readers have been spoon-fed sweet romance novels, and are not predisposed to be understanding of a point of view character who is sympathetic, but not particularly likable. I felt empathy for Edie, even though she is drawn with a harsh crayon. The bully character Precious is anything but, but she seems to be an accurate character, and the blooming friendship between Edie and Jermaine feels realistic, if accelerated. Much of the story rings true. Although much of the story lies below the surface and I think it might stand up to analysis because Edie's decision-making processes reflect the nature of the issues she's faced, I feel the author could have added a few more scenes at certain points. I did read in one sitting, and recommend for young adult readers.