Books Magazine

Book Review: Since You've Been Gone

By Bameskaur Pabla @bameslive
Since You've Been Gone Since You've Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Since You've Been Gone centers around a fifteen year old girl named Edie Fraser. Edie and her mother keep moving from place to place in order to stay away from her abusive father. Just when they begin to get comfortable in one place, they have to pack up and leave. This time Edie and her mother move to England and she needs to go to a new school.

But things are not going so smoothly. Edie finds that the school bully won't leave her alone. Plus, the teachers are not that nice to students either. Just as Edie is trying to fit in, her mom does not come home from work. Edie finds herself alone in a different country without anyone to help her and she needs to find her mom.

The idea that a mother and daughter are trying to hide from an abusive family member has such scope for creativity for a writer. There is so much that is left untold about living in an abusive environment. The same goes for the subject of bullying. Since You've Been Gone reads like it has bitten off more than it can chew. The story has become so simplified and somewhat clipped.

I do not understand how a girl like Edie who claims to not like bullies herself finds it hard to start a friendship with a "weird" girl in her new school. Edie tries to stay away from the girl as if the poor dear has the plague and the girl was only trying to be helpful. Then, Edie displays quite a temper -- how does that differentiate her from a bully, it is all so blurry.

To complicate matters, Edie is drawn to a boy who is treated more like an outcast -- teachers find ways to make his life miserable and students treat him like he is a pariah. Drawn as she is, when her mother disappears and Edie needs to find money to be able to go out and look for her, she decides to steal charity money for which the boy she likes gets blamed. Edie believes she really needs the money (so she steals it).

There may be a lot of readers who will find the book interesting but I am sorry to say, I am not one of them. For a fifteen year old girl to steal charity money and justify her actions by thinking she needs it to find her mom when there are so many other ways she can go about things is not my cup of tea. The title is also a bit vague -- Since You've Been Gone -- but it was Edie and her mother who leave her abusive father.


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