From the Publisher
“Elegant, heart-rending, and deliciously good. Pulls you along with just enough mystery to make your breath catch.” –Terra Elan McVoy, author of Being Friends with Boys
"Beautifully written and achingly real, Then You Were Gone is taut, suspenseful, and moving." –Ann Redisch Stampler, author of Where It Began
“A gripping story, artfully told. Strasnick writes with precision and beauty.” –Jessica Martinez, author of The Space Between Us
VOYA - Kate Neff
The idea of sunny, happy Californian teens is shattered by this story about a girl whose former best friend goes missing mysteriously and leaves behind a dark and twisted shadow. Adrienne and Dakota have been friends since elementary school, but during their sophomore year of high school the girls have a falling-out and no longer speak. Then one night Adrienne receives a desperate voicemail from her estranged friend after two years of not talking, and she begins a spiral out of control. Adrienne starts losing interest in her loving boyfriend and supportive best friend and finds herself dressing and acting like Dakota, a girl who was filled with demons and unhappiness. Although Dakota left a suicide note, Adrienne believes that her former best friend may still be alive. The mystery surrounding Dakota’s disappearance is captivating and keeps the book moving quickly. The characters are not very likable overall because they come off a little privileged and seem to drink and smoke quite a bit without any consequences. Adrienne does grow through her experience, but it is hard to say if her change is really for the better. She begins the novel as a happy girl from a good home with a doting boyfriend and ends a little darker with a new love interest that smokes and skips school. She seems happy and lighthearted at the conclusion, but she is probably not a good role model. Ages 15 to 18.
A girl becomes obsessed with her former best friend's disappearance. Almost every teenage girl experiences the particular brand of heartbreak caused by a special friend's desertion. But this story comes with a twist: Two years after the magnetic and mercurial Dakota drops Adrienne, the story's distressed narrator and protagonist, she leaves a message on Adrienne's cellphone and then disappears. Is it suicide, as a note seems to indicate, a voluntary act or something more sinister? Adrienne, who when readers first meet her seems fairly normal, is initially shaken by the alpha girl's disappearance, a feeling that is complicated by the guilt of having not immediately responded to her ex-friend's call. Together with the similarly fixated-on-Dakota Julian, Dakota's band mate and sometime boyfriend, Adrienne begins to look into the mystery, an exercise that affects her relationship with devoted boyfriend Lee and worries new best friend Kate. The action, which becomes repetitious, moves in spurts and starts, and while the protagonist's emotional journey from stasis to obsession to freedom rings true, readers may find it hard to connect with the one-note heroine. A plot twist near the three-quarter mark gooses the story, which then picks up speed and glides smoothly to a satisfying finish, though a blackmail scene may leave readers feeling ambivalent. This believable portrait of teenage obsession is hampered by a dull protagonist. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Children's Literature - Desiree Solso
Adrienne had been best friends with Dakota since they were kidsthey did everything together. Suddenly, without any warning or explanation two years ago, Dakota ended the friendship. Dakota became the lead singer in a band and the two began to move in different social circles in high school. It was as if the friendship never existed. Since there was no contact between the two former friends, Adrienne was shocked when she received a mysterious voice message from a crying Dakota. Four days later Dakota is missing. Speculations abound. Did she run away; did she commit suicide; what really happened; who knows the truth? As Adrienne delves into the mysterious disappearance, she discovers lies, deceit, affairs, teen pregnancy, and the true nature of Dakota. The mystery comes to a dramatic conclusion when Adrienne locates pregnant Dakota in a run-down motel hours from home. As Adrienne helps Dakota return home,, she learns the dark truth behind people she thought she knew, and person she thought was her friend. The author uses a unique writing style using short chapters and jumping scenes to keep the reader moving along, anxious to discover what will happen next. This book is likely to appeal to older teens who like mystery novels. It is centered on the possibility of teen suicide and depression, which might not appeal to all readers, and contains some mature content of sex and drug use. Reviewer: Desiree Solso; Ages 16 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Inseparable friends since childhood, Dakota and Adrienne barely acknowledge each other in high school. Then one day, after two years of not speaking, Adrienne gets a desperate phone call from Dakota. She doesn't answer, and then Dakota disappears. Their Los Angeles neighborhood is rocked by her suspected suicide. Although Adrienne has a loving family, doting boyfriend, and caring BFF, she becomes darkly obsessed with Dakota. She starts to act and look like her, including hooking up with her boyfriend. She smokes, skips assignments, and pushes away her loved ones. The story reads quickly, and the ending is more or less positive. However, many readers may feel confused with Adrienne's inexplicable response to Dakota's disappearance, which is somewhat bizarre. Additionally, the author includes plenty of sex, drugs, smoking, alcohol abuse, and coarse language that does not add anything significant to the story line.—Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UT
Read an Excerpt
Boys love her. Freak freshman girls worship her. She’s pretty and bitchy and her dark dresses always look perfectly rumpled, as if she’s slipped them on fresh from the cleaners, then rolled around in the barn for a bit.
She wasn’t always this way: shiny and cool. A baby rock god. A high school deity. She used to be just plain Dakota. Fickle, sure. A little wicked. But still, just a girl, my friend.
Right now it’s seventy and sunny. I’m on my back in a plot of curly weeds. I’ve got my hot cell pressed to my ear and here’s what I hear: my name, her voice, muffled, off-beat breathing. Squeaky noises that ride the line between giggles and sobs. I replay the message. Then again, twice more. I’ve heard this thing sixty times since Saturday, when I first saw her name pop up on my caller ID screen.
“Adrienne, it’s me. Remember? Call back, please?”
I haven’t. I’ve done the opposite. I’ve ignored her call all week.
I flip my phone shut. She’s been MIA since the weekend: three successive school absences and an unsubstantiated rumor that she hasn’t been home since late Sunday night. Should I be worried? Guilty?
I dial back. Four days late. I bite my tongue so hard I taste tin.