Author: Lauren Strasnick
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: For review from Simon & Schuster via YA Books Central
Description from Goodreads:
In the tradition of 13 Reasons Why, a suspenseful and heart-wrenching novel from the author of Nothing Like You and Her and Me and You.
Two years ago, Adrienne’s best friend walked out of her life. One week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate, muffled voicemail. Adrienne never called back.
Now Dakota is missing. She left behind a string of broken hearts, a flurry of rumors, and a suicide note.
Adrienne can’t stop obsessing over what might have happened if she’d answered Dakota’s call. And she’s increasingly convinced that Dakota must still be alive.
Maybe finding and saving Dakota is the only way Adrienne can save herself.
Or maybe it’s too late for them both.
First Sentence: "She's standing, clutching a Coke can, dancing in front of my broken mirror."
So many books about poor little rich kids spiraling out of control are melodramatic and with this totally bored air, as though they're too good to care about anything even though they're living these shiny lives of desparation. They're whiny and superior and do nothing with so much opportunity. I just find those books so frustrating most of the time.
What Strasnick does differently is the heroine's approach to everything. Where the heroines in such stories tend to lack self-awareness or pity themselves, Adrienne really does not. Adrienne knows she's fucking up her life, and she knows there's no one else to place the blame on for that. Adrienne knows she's losing her grip, both in classes and in her romantic life, but cannot seem to stop herself. She has to find out what has happened to her former best friend, a search which leads to her failing even her best class and smoking like a chimney. In the search, she learns a lot about herself and her relationship with Dakota.
Now, even before Adrienne went off the rails after Dakota's disappearance, she and her friends were a whole bunch of hot messes. These kids go through life half-drunk. Th, do, though when she starts slumming with the smokers her position in the A list is threatened.
This book, slight though it is, has plenty to scandalize and shock the reader, but Strasnick approaches these things in a very straightforward way. The writing fits the story well, fairly simple and to the point like Adrienne herself. Strasnick's treatment of her subjects kept the book from straying into some sort of sensationalized Gossip Girl kind of thing, and more of a dark look at real problems some teens have.
I would have liked to see a bit more character development throughout or perhaps have been more grounded in who Adrienne was before Dakota's disappearance. From the beginning of the book, Adrienne has already been thrown for a loop by Dakota leaving her a message before mysteriously disappearing. She's not herself, and this version of Adrienne, is distanced from everything, single-mindedly focused on figuring out what happened. As such, she's hard to emotionally connect with. Such a connection would have thrown her dark spiral into sharper relief.
Then You Were Gone is a quick read that I found to be quite enjoyable and emotionally honest. This was my first experience with Strasnick's work, but I do plan to read more of her work because of how good this is.
"'You can't tell that sort of thing over the phone.' She digs a chip into the guac and waves it at me. 'Here. Taste test.' Then, 'Besides, people process their crap differently.'Giveaway:
'It's good,' I manage, mouth full. And, 'I thought everyone processed their crap exactly the same.'
'Funny,' she says, pulling me close, pushing my face against her chest.
'Can't breathe,' I cry, writhing, whining.
'Shut up, please?' She kisses my forehead, hugs me harder. 'I need to squeeze my kid.'"
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