Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

21509074Release Date: February 17th 2015

Publisher: Dundurn Group

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/ Realistic Fiction

Format: eARC

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

My Rating: 2 Umbrellas

Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

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.

This book is filled with issues – bullying, domestic violence, verbal abuse, and racism – among other things. And while I can feel sympathetic towards the main character’s situation, I cannot like her as a character. Along with not liking the main character, there’s the fact that the story is not written properly to make any sense. It’s all thrown together and rushed at the end, which is very anti-climactic.

At the start of this story, Edie and her mother are once again on the move. Every time they move to a new location, her father always manages to track them down; he is a psychologist for the police after all, so he has connections. It’s obvious that they are running from an abusive jerk and think that nothing can be done about it because of his status and the friends who would believe him. And then we are off to London, England (they are from Canada but Sydney, Edie’s mother, was born and raised in London) where they try to make a go at a normal life and pray that her father doesn’t track them down. On Edie’s first day of school she is approached by Imogen, or Maggots as the bullies like to call her. First off, Edie is a very self absorbed person. Sure she has had a tough life on the run, but she of all people knows what it’s like to be bullied and ostracized by fellow classmates. So I don’t know why she was thinking about how she didn’t want to be seen with someone like Imogen. Then she meets Savitri and Keshia (yeah, I laughed on the name when I saw it) who become her friends and she soon forgets all about Imogen; even goes as far as ignoring her in the cafeteria at lunch.

There are other characters who are just as bad. Precious, for instance, is the bully of all bullies. She and her minions get off on antagonizing the kids at school, especially Imogen – and now Edie. Then there’s Jermaine, who gets treated like a nobody because of the color of his skin. He too has had a tough life but everyone around him has committed to casting him out despite how, obviously, intelligent he is. When Edie’s mom doesn’t come home after her night shift at work, Edie decides to not go to the police and steals money from her homeroom teacher’s charity fund to find her mom on her own. Of course, Jermaine gets blamed for it and Edie acts as though it’s all about her problems. After that happened, I was done trying to like Edie. Eventually, Jermaine ends up helping her and it all goes downhill from there.

Not only is this story poorly crafted, it is filled with analogy after analogy. There are only so many times that something can be described in comparison to something. I get it, move on please. The only reason this got 2 stars from me is because of the reality of the situation. I abhor domestic violence and all that it entails. I feel bad for the spouses and children involved. I especially don’t condone racism. Those parts of the story made me want to stop reading altogether. I cannot recommend this book to anyone. I’m sure there are better books of the same subject matter for young adults to read; this is not one of them.

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2 thoughts on “Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

  1. It’s a shame that you found this story to be a bit too chaotic for you. Yes, it does make a good idea for it to bring across the message it tries to, but it doesn’t seem like it does that effectively.

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    • This book could have been great if the characters and situations were handled differently. Edie is very unlikable to me. Sure, I felt bad for her at times but she came off as a very selfish person. Not a good trait to have if you are in the type of situation that she’s in.

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