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Then You Were Gone

Then You Were Gone

3.8 6
by Lauren Strasnick

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Desiree Solso
Adrienne had been best friends with Dakota since they were kids—they 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.
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.
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.00(d)
HL390L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Then You Were Gone

  • Dakota Webb.

    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.

  • Meet the Author

    Lauren Strasnick grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, now lives in Los Angeles, California, and is a graduate of Emerson College and the California Institute of the Arts MFA Writing Program. She wrote her first short story, “Yours Truly, The Girls from Bunk Six,” in a cloth-bound 5x4 journal, in the fifth grade. She is the author of Then You Were Gone, Nothing Like You, and Her and Me and You. Find out more at LaurenStrasnick.com, and follow her on Twitter at @LaurenStrasnick.

    Customer Reviews

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    Then You Were Gone 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
    Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
    An enjoyable book, but I'm not sure what the point was?! (Source: I borrowed a copy of this book.) Adrienne and Dakota haven’t spoken in two years. Dakota has been off singing with her band somewhere, but now she’s missing. The Police found her car, and a possible suicide note, but nobody knows where she actually is. Now Adrienne is feeling guilty – because Dakota left her a voicemail that she never answered, and feeling sad because she and Dakota were no longer friends. What really happened to Dakota? And how long will it take Adrienne to come to terms with the fact that Dakota isn’t here anymore? I’m not really sure what to make of this book. I enjoyed reading it, but now that I’ve got to the end, I’m wondering what the point was. Adrienne basically spends the whole book feeling guilty, and wondering what happened to Dakota. Wearing Dakota’s clothes, and doing her make-up like Dakota used to. Spending time with Dakota’s sort-of boyfriend Julian, and feeling a bit depressed. She ignores her own boyfriend, forgets her school work, and generally does very little (other than smoke). The strange thing is that Adrienne and Dakota hadn’t even spoken in two years! Whether this made things better or worse for Adrienne I’m not sure, and why they stopped being friends exactly I’m not sure either. This books focus seems to be more on how Adrienne feels about Dakota being missing, than what actually happened to Dakota, and the things that Adrienne does in an effort to work through how she really felt about her, and how she can grieve for her, which basically involves a lot of doing nothing other than wearing black and ignoring her friends. Other than the Dakota storyline, there were a few brief snatches of romance, but nothing much, and Adrienne also spent a little time doing her own sort of investigation into Dakota’s life, which doesn’t really seem to get her very far. There is one small mystery that Adrienne solves, but even that feels a little lack-luster. All that being said, I did enjoy this book, and it was a quick read. I also liked that the book had a satisfying ending – at the end of the book we know exactly what happened to Dakota – thank you Lauren Strasnick for this! Overall; an enjoyable YA, focusing on being the one left behind. 7 out of 10.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I liked the book and it was an easy read, but it gets quite confusing at times. I got a hold of the concept, but it was vaguely potrayed.
    DahlELama More than 1 year ago
    I could see this being a hard book to connect with if you've never had one of those friends, the kind you know are bad for you, or fleeting, or both, and yet you let yourself get sucked in anyway...but I have, and this book resonated with me so, so hard. I love Strasnick's bare writing style, I love "the supper club," I love that the MC is fully aware that she's her own undoing, and I love the ways realistic flaws abound in the twisted characters. I also loved that Adrianne's family wasn't super traditional but was still awesome, and that no one was objectively villainized despite the various levels of betraying occurring throughout. I sped through this one, and plan to promptly buy all her others.
    Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
    This book had an amazing voice! Too often, in young adult literature, protagonists are described as being different, but they do not necessarily emote this through their language and actions. I became obsessed with Adrienne on the first page of chapter one. She was a girl who didn't need to be described--her voice was the biggest presence in the book. She is unique and interesting and very real. This strength of character combined with an excellent combination of suspense and contemporary personal growth, made this a page turner for me. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    Then You Were Gone was a quick read, I couldn't put it down and had to figure out exactly what was going on with Dakota. I couldn't decide if I really thought she was dead, and if so, was it a suicide, or was it something sinister? I was glued to Adrienne, the main character and her grief, inner monologues, her inexplicable need to dress and act like her (ex?) friend Dakota. I liked how Then You Were Gone had snippets from the past friendship of Dakota and Adrienne, showing where Adrienne's feelings came from and helping me to understand that there was something deeper there for her, and trying to understand what made Dakota tick and what exactly ended their friendship. For Adrienne, to me it seemed that it was unresolved and a feeling of guilt, because she got that phone call from Dakota and she didn't know why she was calling, and then came the rumors she was missing and the speculation that she had killed herself. Adrienne's relationship with Lee was one that I haven't really read one quite like though. I liked Lee for the most part though, because he treated Adrienne very well while she was being herself, but then it did seem to me like he jumped ship pretty quickly and did some questionable things... Not that I am saying that the way that Adrienne treated him was okay, but still. It seemed like a character discrepancy to me because it doesn't seem like something he would do. While we have the weird relationship between her and Lee, and the lost friendship and almost worship of Adrienne towards Dakota, Lauren Strasnick also paints a beautiful picture of true frienship between Adrienne and Kate. Kate is a truly likeable character and I appreciate how she supports Adrienne and is there for her and pushes her at the right time. She also has a mouth on her that provides some tension relief for both the reader and Adrienne at the right moments. Although this book is a quick read and relatively short, don't let it fool you, it packs a lot of plot, a lot of emotion, a healthy pinch of sarcasm and humor, and explores the workings of friendships and relationships and the effects of grief on your life. Then You Were Gone is for mature teens, because it has drug use, underage drinking, cursing, sex and foreplay and other mature themes that I can't mention without spoiling the plot... Which disturbed me by the way, the unmentioned, but I totally think that it is an important issue to address... And see the ways NOT to handle it. Bottom line: Quick and hard hitting story about grief and friendship, both the loss of and the true definition of it.