Young Adult, Contemporary
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The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?
Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go Skinny Dipping? Um..
Putting aside the fact that I would read anything Morgan Matson writes, even a takeout menu, I immediately felt a connection to Emily just by reading the synopsis alone. For most of my life, I’ve attached myself to best friends who have been so…out there, so unique and outgoing and wild and memorable. Everyone always knew my best friend, everyone always loved her, no matter who she was at the time and I followed in the adventures that were her life, and got used to being “Amanda’s best friend” or “Vanessa’s best friend” or “Allison’s best friend”. It was something I sort of got used to until none of them were there anymore. They didn’t disappear in the way that Sloane does with Emily, but the feelings were incredibly familiar to me and this was a huge part of my desire to read the book.
And the fact that Morgan had written it. Did I mention that part? I would read anything and everything by her.
Moving on though, I fell in love with this book. It’s not short, just about 450 pages and yet I managed to stay up until about 2 am, reading it. I tweeted about it, because I was so overwhelmed with how fast I read it and the emotions that I was so full of, and she had the perfect solution to it all.
Everything about this books feel so real and that’s why its so easy to get caught up in them. She’s such a beautiful writer, and an incredible storyteller but she’s also such a familiar writer too. All of her characters are memorable and real and genuine and they feel like they could be your best friend. That’s the way Amy felt in Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Taylor in Second Chance Summer and Emily felt such the same way. Whether you’re an Emily or a Sloane or just a you, you can feel so connected with Emily. Its fantastic to go on this journey with her, from where she starts as this incredibly shy and unsure girl and transforms into someone very different.
What really gets me about this book is the connections and the friendships. It starts off with just the friendship between Emily and Frank as they work their way through Sloane’s list but you also get Dawn and Matthew and Emily’s family and its all incredibly beautiful. I love that Emily is able to find friendships in the most unexpected places and I love that summer brings them all together. I love the possibility of summer and how its this vast empty space to fill with adventures and its perfect for Emily’s changes and the friendships she makes. I love the weird way she meets Dawn and how they become friends. I love that the friendship with Frank is incredibly unexpected to Emily but her friendship with Frank’s friend Matthew is even weirder. The story is about friendship and you get so many examples of different friendships and its beautiful.
Plus, I mean, come on. Frank. Frank Porter. One, the name Frank? Not sexy, but totally manages to be so in this book. Also, I knew a boy named Frank Porter in…middle school? Maybe high school? Also, not a very sexy guy. But Morgan manages to get past the name thing and the boy I knew in middle school thing to make another boy that I’m falling ridiculously in love with.
Morgan also brings back something that she did in her first novel that I absolutely loved and that was music playlists. In Amy and Roger’s, there were playlists scattered throughout the book because they were on a road trip and it made sense. Playlists were probably harder to integrate into Second Chance Summer so the return of the playlists in this novel made me incredibly happy. The first time I saw the name “Andrew McMahon” on a playlist, I almost cried in happiness. Andrew McMahon (known for Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin and most recently, himself as a solo artist) is my musical spirit animal. I have a Something Corporate tattoo on my ankle and so I found a connection even in just the selection of music.
Lastly, I cried. It was two a.m. and I was overwhelmed with emotions and I just let it all out in sobs. It was not a sad book, not the way that Second Chance Summer was or even Amy and Roger’s but it reaches and grabs your emotions so tightly. I felt so filled up with so many emotions that I can’t even begin to name and I cried. This book makes you feel so much and I absolutely loved it.
I’ve talked enough but the bottom line is this: Morgan Matson is a terrific writer and her third novel does not disappoint. She makes you laugh and cry and want to go skinny dipping on the beach and work in an ice cream parlor and drive a car with a broken sunroof. She writes a memorable, beautiful book and its one that you most DEFINITELY need to go and pick up.
5 out of 5 Stars