Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

By Ekta R. Garg

January 28, 2015

Rated: Bookmark it!

A teenager moves with her mother to start a new life away from her abusive father. When her mother goes missing, however, the teen realizes she will need to take charge of her own life, and the thought terrifies her. Author Mary Jennifer Payne keeps young adult readers on the edges of their seats with the action-packed novel Since You’ve Been Gone.

Edie Fraser loves her hometown of Toronto. She has a best friend and an adorable cat named Peaches. Best of all, her mother, Sydney, seems to have figured out how to keep the two of them safe from Edie’s father, an abusive man. Then all of Sydney’s efforts fail once again, and Edie and Sydney leave Toronto with whatever they can pack in a rush.

This time Sydney chooses London as their escape, and Edie hates it. She doesn’t want to go to a new school—she’s done it too many times and knows what to expect. She misses Peaches, because they couldn’t bring her across the ocean. Edie didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to her best friend. Not to mention the weather in London seems so dreary all the time, which only underscores Edie’s dislike for the entire situation.

But Edie knows she doesn’t have a choice. She does her best to settle into her new school even though a bully targets her on her first day. Her mother even gets a job where she can get paid under the table. On her first day of work Sydney promises to come home by a certain time. When she doesn’t show up Edie begins to worry. When Sydney stays missing, Edie fears the worst: her father has found them yet again.

She doesn’t know anything about London, but the idea of going to the police terrifies Edie. That’s the fastest track to end up with a foster family, she knows, and there’s no way she can go stay with a foster family if she wants to find her mom. But where will she begin? How will she search through the myriad of London’s streets all by herself? And how much time does she have left?

Author Mary Jennifer Payne scores a winner with Since You’ve Been Gone. Edie’s dilemma will challenge teens to think about a host of issues in their lives today, everything from bullying to trusting rumors and gossip. Payne uses first person for Edie’s voice, and the choice allows readers access to more than just Edie’s thoughts. It increases the tension and gives readers the opportunity to feel everything Eddie feels: her fear; her desperation; and her certainty about why her mother disappeared.

Payne doesn’t shy away from the reality of life on the streets, and even though her protagonist is a teenager Payne allows Edie a glimpse into adulthood. Teen readers may want to take note: life as an adult may look uncomplicated until you have to act like one. Edie discovers this firsthand and deals with her situation with bravery and fortitude.

Still, the tension will increase on every single page, and readers won’t want to stop until they come to the book’s climax and Edie has exhausted all of her options. I highly recommend readers Bookmark Since You’ve Been Gone.

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