(One of today's reviews from Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21509074-since-you-ve-been-gone?from_search=true)
SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE is a fast past mystery that will appeal to Tweens and younger teens, despite some of the incredulous events that occur. Edie is a likable character, sympathetic yet imperfect, smart, and she proceeds even when frightened. Her feelings and behaviors are realistic and understandable. Jermaine is also well fleshed out. Younger teens will buy into the plot and appreciate the young heroine and hero as they work to solve the mystery. I always feel unqualified to judge the writing of books written outside of the USA, since I am unfamiliar with the differences in the English language. I will say that the book was easily readable and engaging. I appreciate the diversity of characters and the topic of domestic violence, two components often lacking in YA books.
Here is a little excerpt from my new novel, Enough, which is in its early stages.
If you could be granted any super power, which would you choose? It’s a hard question. After all, how can you be expected to decide if it would be more fun to climb buildings like Spiderman, soar through the skies like a peregrine falcon, or run like a cheetah? I know a lot of guys my age would definitely choose to have x-ray vision- for obvious reasons.
But the decision wouldn’t be hard for me. For the past three years, I’ve been wishing I could become invisible whenever Mom’s boyfriend decides to use me as his personal punching bag. Tonight, as Dean’s fingers close around my upper arm like a crab, digging into my flesh and making tears spring to my eyes, I make that familiar wish once again.
God, please make this stop. Please make me invisible.
Dean pulls me close, and leans in so that his face is level with mine. Red spider veins crisscross the yellowy whites of his eyes like a subway map. At thirty-five he looks a good ten years older. His breath is hot on my face. He reeks of booze, cigarette smoke, and sour sweat.
“You little bitch,” he says, spittle landing on my cheek. I hold my breath, afraid of vomiting all over myself if I inhale his stench. “Where’s my forty dollars?”
I stare hard at the front of his grey, cotton t-shirt, at the soft bulge of his stomach that hangs ever so slightly over the waist of his jeans. Behind Dean, on the mantle of our fake fireplace, is a black and white photo of my grandmother when she was in her early twenties. It was taken at the waterfront. She’s sitting on a rock, the wind blowing her thick, dark hair away from her face, her full, lips pulled back into a wide smile. I have the same wide mouth and high cheekbones, thanks to her First Nations blood, and my Dad’s African heritage. The photo is one of the only really beautiful things left in this apartment. The beauty in our family and home steadily decayed after Dad’s death. And then Dean made sure he destroyed any last remaining bit of it when he moved in three years ago. I hate him.
“What forty dollars?” I ask, forcing myself to meet his angry stare. “You’re completely pissed. You probably spent it on booze or some whore and can’t remember.”
His eyes narrow into snake-like slits. “If you want to be going to school tomorrow and seeing that prick of a boyfriend of yours, you better make them twenty dollar bills appear. Otherwise, you’re going to have “the flu” for the next week.”
I snap my head back up, and laugh. “I don’t have your money.” I’m shaking with adrenaline and fear, and hope he doesn’t notice. If there’s anything Dean likes, it’s weakness. I guess that’s why he loves Mom so much. That and the fact that she drinks with him until they both become drooling idiots passed out on our couch.
“Think you’re funny, Lizzie?” he slurs. “How’s this for funny?” Suddenly his free hand wraps around my brown curls and my head snaps backward. My scalp feels like it is on fire. For a brief second, I’m scared my bladder is going to give out. If I piss myself, Dean will be in heaven.
I won’t give him the satisfaction.
“Yeah, I do think I’m funny,” I manage to say through gritted teeth. “I’m funny, and you’re pathetic. A pathetic loser and a waste of space.”
Dean stares at me. I can almost see the wheels turning in his mind. Our fights have been intensifying over the last two years. I’ve become more and more defiant and confrontational with him to ensure that all his anger is directed at me and not Charlie.
Suddenly Dean smiles. It’s a cold smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. He looks like one of those poisonous snakes with their flat, reptilian eyes just before they strike prey. His grip on my hair tightens. Fear rises in my throat. I wish I’d waited to come home. I knew Charlie had physiotherapy, but I was just too hungry to stay at the library any longer, and had no money to grab something to eat.
Here are some bits and pieces from early reviews of Since You've Been Gone. You can check out more reviews, and have the chance to win a FREE advance copy of your own at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21509074-since-you-ve-been-gone#other_reviews
15 year old Edie is on the run with her mother. It's not their first move, and it's probably not their last. When her mother does not come home from work, Edie begins to panic. Alone in a new city Edie must decide who to trust and who to hide from. The pacing of this book is outstanding. More than just a great story, this book touches on so many adolescent themes: bullying, bystanders, prejudice and more. I highly recommend this book for both middle school and high school.(less)
You can also find this review on my blog http://gloriatheviolinist.booklikes.com
Edie and her mom are on the run. They have been for years now. They're trying to escape from Edie's violent father, but for some reason, he can't let them go and keeps on tracking them down. After Edie and het mom move from Canada to London in a rush, Edie tries to blend in in the new city and her new school. But that's easier said than done. And then one day her mom doesn't come home from work. Edie doesn't know who to turn to for help, but what she does know is that she has to find her mom, because what if her father found her? She can't bear to think about it.
The writing style of this book is just absolutely beautiful. When I read books, I often feel what the characters are feeling. But this was different. I felt like I was actually living what the characters were going through ! It's amazing how this author can really force you into living the story, alog with the characters. This story really sucks you in, so if you decide to read this book, be prepared to read for a couple hours straight !
This story also makes you think. It approaches loads of different problems people face in reality ( violence, being bullied, feeling alone, trying to fit in a new school,...) and it makes you realise that these things actually happen. It's after reading stories like this one that I realise just how lucky I am with what I have and what really is important in life, and that I don't always appreciate these things enough.
What I also liked a lot about this book was the main character. Edie is a really strong person. She has faced so many hard situations and problems in her life, but somehow she still manages to go on. She also grows throughout the story. In the beginning she's already a strong person, but she's terrified and runs away from er problems. But in the end of the story she has become so much stronger ! She's still terrified ( wich every sane person would be in her situation ) but she chooses,herself, to face her problems straight in the face. This character was just so real !! And I felt everything she felt right along with her.
And the ending ! I can't think about rhe ending without feeling a rush of emotions all over again ! Edie was just so strong, and I really admire her ! At her place, I would just have broken down and wouldn't have been able to face it.
This story was truly amazing, but you have to read it to understand just how amazing it is ! If you're looking for a cute contemporary book, then you're looking at the wrong book. But if you're lookig for a realistic, beautifully written, sad but strong story, then you've found it ! I really look forward to reading more from this author !!
Mary Jennifer Payne began writing at the age of six when her Katy the Cat series debuted in the library of her elementary school. A graduate of both Queen’s University (BA) and the University of Western Ontario (MA, BEd), she spent three years living in London, England, where she worked as a teacher, writer and actress. She now resides in Toronto and travels to the UK as often as possible. When not writing or teaching, Jennie spends her time rescuing feral cats, working out at the gym and traveling. Her short stories and graphic books have been published in Canada, the US and throughout the UK. Mary Jennifer is currently finishing her second YA novel, Stolen Sister, for which she received a generous grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Her first novel, Since You've Been Gone, is available for worldwide rights with Margaret Hart of the HSW Literary Agency. http://www.hswliteraryagency.humber.ca A huge thanks to both the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils for their financial support during the writing of both these novels.
Mary Jennifer Payne began writing at the age of six when her Katy the Cat series debuted in the library of her elementary school. A graduate of both Queen’s University (BA) and the University of Western Ontario (MA, BEd), she spent three years living in London, England, where she worked as a teacher, writer and actress. She now resides in Toronto and travels to the UK as often as possible. When not writing or teaching, Jennie spends her time rescuing feral cats, working out at the gym and traveling. Her short stories and graphic books have been published in Canada, the US and throughout the UK.
Mary Jennifer is currently finishing her second YA novel, Stolen Sister, for which she received a generous grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Her first novel, Since You've Been Gone, is available for worldwide rights with Margaret Hart of the HSW Literary Agency. http://www.hswliteraryagency.humber.ca
A huge thanks to both the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils for their financial support during the writing of both these novels.