Amy and Roger's Epic Detour was my second book by Morgan Matson that I read and it was...good. It didn't wow me or make me go all squealing fangirl. It was cute. I had problems with it, but it wasn't bad by any means.
Then there was Since You've Been Gone and IF Morgan Matson needed redeeming, this book did it. I'll always look back and remember SYBG as the book of summer 2014 for me. I've told people multiple times to read it because it's the ultimate summer book. And I'll say it again. Do it. You won't regret it. Because it made me not only enthralled, but also challenged, in a way.
The book is centered on Emily whose best friend Sloane has disappeared. She doesn't know where or if she's ever coming back and since her whole world was wrapped around ONE best friend, she has to cope with that empty slot in her life. Unlike other books where something happens to a friendship between two people, where one is more dependent on the other, this didn't feel obsessive. It probably wasn't the healthiest thing, but Emily definitely saw more improvement quicker than others. She makes new friends. She grows. Most importantly, Sloane even helps her adjust by leaving her with a summer bucket list.
I love bucket lists. I love lists. I love adventure. These three things shape Emily's journey through the book. And this is where I give my biggest thank you to Morgan Matson. It encouraged me to accomplish things in MY summer, the summer where I had to be less dependent on my own surroundings. I wasn't losing a best friend (well, not really), but I was losing 18 years of familiarity since I was leaving for school in August.
I made time to hangout with people more.
This might sound so silly to others, but me actually making plans with people takes a lot. I usually wait for others to say something and a lot of times this summer, that's what happened. But I also initiated. And I bonded with people I cared about, something I won't ever regret.
As ya'll know, I went to Nicaragua. That place transformed me and I spent a week of my life pouring love out into others. I tried new things on that trip and became more flexible than I ever was before.
Yesterday I did something that's always been on my bucket list: SKYDIVING. I turned 18 two weeks ago and knew that I wanted to give a birthday gift to myself. The jump was incredible. I did get sick once the parachute opened, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything else.
I said goodbye.
Through the whole book, Emily was trying to figure out where Sloane went. But I personally believe that by crossing off each item her best friend gave her, Emily was also saying goodbye. I haven't left yet (I leave tomorrow night and will be saying most of my goodbyes by the time this is posted today), but I have said goodbye to friends already. And those lovely Nicaraguans. I hate goodbyes, but you know what? It's healthy.
And while the main point of this is to say how much Morgan Matson impacted me with her latest book, a big part of why I loved SYBG was that cliche saying of "being in love with love." I loved loving this book. I loved the summery feel. While I've had past issues with Sarah Dessen books for making me grumble that it was NOT real life and it ruins reality, I didn't feel the same way with SYBG. I wished my summers were like that, sure, but it also pushed me to achieve it too. I won't ever go skinny dipping (I promise, Mom, I have no desire), but I think it's exciting to try other new things. Mostly, it's actually a lot of fun to watch (in this case, read) about others doing new things. Sometimes it's great to live vicariously through others (I'm looking at you BEA attendees). And sometimes you need an author to challenge you to take a hold of your summer.
So thank you, Morgan Matson.