Book Review: ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ by Mary Payne



Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydne, have been trying to outrun the past for five years, so far. It isn’t exactly working out though; Edie has not only moved to a new school, but a different country. Though Sydney promises Edie that this London life is a fresh start, Edie doesn’t think being targeted by the school bully is particularly fresh. When Sydney doesn’t come home one night, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them. Alone in a strange country, Edie is determined to find her mother without involving the police for fear that she’ll be sent back to her abusive mother. With no idea where to start untangling this webbed mess, she now faces the most difficult decisions of her life.

In comparison to Morgan Matson’s book with the same title, Mary Payne’s Since You’ve Been Gone is quite the disappointment. From an unlikeable main character and minimal development of any kind (other than a ridiculous romantic development) to a lackluster plot, I found the novel okay at best. The book was further hindered by the author’s attempt to cram way too much info in way too few pages. Since You’ve Been Gone was rushed and compressed and all those synonyms for rushed you can think of. Think Sparknotes gone wrong.

Edie is the main character most authors steer clear of writing. She’s whiny, selfish, and immature. In other words, she’s a jerkish a**hole. Yes, I understand that she’s gone through a lot, but even her situation cannot excuse her from stealing charity money and being mean to the first person she meets. Edie’s inconsistencies, her hypocrisy, simply drove me crazy. Yet her lack of development was even more maddening; it’s one thing to begin a story with an asshole of a main character, it’s another thing to end without making the asshole somewhat better of a person.

This being said, Mary Payne truly does have some talent. She has a great writing style and an eye for detail. The fact that she doesn’t shy away from tough situations is another plus. However, Since You’ve Been Gone‘s cons far outweigh the few pros. In fact, the unblance is so extreme that I can’t in good conscience recommend this book to anyone.

Though I know the author will improve (tremendously, hopefully), I won’t be waiting for her next book.

Rating: 3 out of 10
Publisher: Dundurn Group (February 17th, 2015)
Length: 224 pages (Paperback)
ISBN #: 9781459728189
Source: Netgalley

Valerie is sixteen. She attends a boarding school near Boston, where she writes, reads, and attempts to be a studious student. She's too lazy to write the rest of this bio, so follow her on Twitter @torquoiseworld because shameless self-promotion is alive and thriving!