Since You've Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone

by Mary Jennifer Payne

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CCBC’s Best Books for Kids&Teens (Fall 2015) - Commended

Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser searches for her mother, who has gone missing shortly after the two moved to London, England, to escape Edie’s abusive father.

Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school — she’s in a different country.

Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn’t come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.

Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she’ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781459728202
Publisher: Dundurn Press
Publication date: 12/19/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 995,614
File size: 552 KB
Age Range: 12 - 15 Years

About the Author

Mary Jennifer Payne’s writing has been published in journals, anthologies, and magazines in Canada and abroad. She is the author of several YA graphic novels. Since You’ve Been Gone is her first YA novel. She teaches with the Toronto District School Board and lives in Toronto.

Mary Jennifer Payne is the author of the Daughters of Light series, the YA novel Since You’ve Been Gone, and several YA graphic stories. She lives in Toronto.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

involved in any way makes me want to dry heave all over my bed.

She won’t “kill me,” which is what other kids say when they make a major life mistake like having a party while their parents are away for the weekend, or smoking weed, or getting caught shoplifting. My mom doesn’t get angry. Ever. She won’t even raise her voice at me. Anger is something she avoids like a bad dentist; I guess she figures we’ve dealt with enough of it in this lifetime. But I think it’s natural. Anger, I mean. It’s a natural emotion. And it would be so much easier to deal with her getting angry like normal parents.
Instead, she’ll be disappointed…and worried. More than anything, my suspension is going to make her super anxious because there will be follow-up meetings about it at school. And at these meetings there will be questions. Questions about our situation at home and what might be making me so angry. I wonder if
Ranice’s mom will want to press assault charges. I doubt it. Most people in our neighbourhood have a pretty uneasy relationship with the police.

The streetlamp in front of our townhouse is already on; its yellow light illuminating the spider web shaped cracks in the windshield of the abandoned car at the curb and the dirty snow banks left over from last week’s blizzard.

She’s fine. She’ll be home any minute.


Anger is rising in me like hot lava. It’s not her fault. I know that. Mom didn’t ask for this any more than I did. But I’m angry anyway.

Peaches meows softly from the bed where she’s curled up, anxiously watching me.
It’s like she understands what we’re talking about.

Peaches, at the bed I’ll never sleep in again. And suddenly my suspension doesn’t matter at all.

Customer Reviews

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Since You've Been Gone 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Autumn2 More than 1 year ago
I received this book via NetGalley. Honestly this was not the short story for me. The title and the blurb caught me and I was like this is going to be a really, really great book. It seems to have some mystery, suspense. Oh it had it a bit of mystery but it was nothing of what I was expecting.  I have to say this book did have some promise to it but just fell short of what I was wanting to read within the story. Let me just put into words everything that is going through my head with this review as everything seems like it is a jumble mess. First off the names of some of the characters. They threw me off as I was not expecting such unique names.  We start off the story with Edie (that is a girl) and her mother having to move. Which of course what teenager likes moving from place to place. We find out later on why they are moving so much, which it comes on so much more later that I first started questioning if we were ever going to be told.  When they move to London, of course there is new adjustments, and Edie is trying to fit in with her new school and keep her head down. Of course that is impossible to do. Especially when you have bullies.  Then when Edie's mother starts her new job and doesn't come home that is when the story took a nose dive for me. I understood the reasoning behind Edie not getting the police involved but she wasn't making it to me, her top priority. That is when Edie does not a good thing, she ends up stealing and the person who catches her ends up trying to help her find her mother. Jermaine and Edie spend a majority of the time running around not getting full answers, and eating. I kid you not I felt they were worried more about spending the stolen money on food.  When we do find out what happened with her mother it was one of those oh wow that wasn't as bad as I thought type thing I thought it was going to be something gory and horrendous and then we go on a full blown search for the killer. The characters now they did not really click with me as I hoped. Edie drove me crazy she just didn't seem like a nice person at times. She picked on someone because they were different than her. Which I give her props because at the end she makes up for her wrongs. Jermaine I felt sorry for him once he let us know what his background was about. Those were really the only main characters.  Now you may enjoy this story more than I did. I think if the author developed the characters a whole lot more and added more suspense then I think this story would have been a whole lot different and better.
lenorewastaken 5 months ago
2 stars — So I was trying to find a mystery type book for one of my reading challenges, and this is one of the oldest NetGalley books I haven’t read…from when I first joined NetGalley and requested all sorts of things. Unfortunately this book was just…not engaging. I just had all sorts of problems with it, but because I wanted it to count for my challenge, because I usually give NetGalley books more time, and because I was curious about the mystery, I kept going. Probably a mistake. Honestly, there was very little that worked for me in this book. The writing felt very basic, and while I appreciate that 15 years old is very young, I felt like Edie came across even younger. Or rather, it felt like the book was being written by a young teenager. The characters were all very shallow, there was no depth. It was very black and white, and for the first part of the book EVERY character was horrific, including Edie. I was torn with myself, because I think it was trying to show how from a teenagers perspective it can seem like everyone is against you, but the way it was done just didn’t work. I didn’t end up empathizing with Edie, and I really should have. She was going through some hard things. But I felt nothing. Later on in the book she meets kinder people, and I get that it’s probably supposed to show her growing up, but it just didn’t work for this reader. It felt unrealistic. I should classify this as a coming of age story, b/c I believe that was the author’s intention. But I didn’t see/feel her grow in this story. I didn’t believe her transitions. It just didn’t come across to me. And while I get that it was from Edie’s perspective, it paints the world and London in a HORRIBLE light, where everyone is a horrific bully (teachers, other kids, random people on the street), with no nuance. If it was truly just Edie’s perspective, the reader should have seen some light even if she couldn’t see it. I did eventually appreciate the friendship she formed with Jermaine, though that happened rather quickly. As for the mystery/plot? It didn’t feel realistic, it didn’t really keep me on the edge of my seat, and in the end it was kind of anti-climactic. So yeah. Not a good review from Lenore. So often that’s just my perspective and personal taste, but I have a feeling I wouldn’t be in the minority with this book. *shrugs*
BuckeyeAngel More than 1 year ago
Edie was fifteen years old when she punched Ranice james in the face and was officially suspended. Edie’s mother Sydney avoids anger like a bad dentist. Then Edie got a phone call from her mom and Sydney told her she needed to pack. Janice was going to be with her mom. Edie was to pack two suitcases not too heavy. Edie and her mom Sydney have been running for the last five years from Edie’s violent dad. Edie and Sydney end up London Sydney ends up with a night shift job and tell Edie to be careful and vigilant. Edie is rude especially to the first person who tries to welcome her to the new school just because the girl was a little weird. Then one night Sydney doesn’t come home from work and just disappears. Edie stole some money from school and with Jermaine Edie sets off to try to find her mother. I didn’t really care for this story. I didn’t like how Edie stole charitable funds and let someone else who was innocent take the blame. It was also trying to hard to promote racism is wrong as far as I am concerned this is a true subject but don’t go overboard in a short story. This was a short story but still seemed rushed to me. The Biggest thing I really didn't like was Edie herself.
BookWorm221 More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that it took me longer than usual to warm up to this book, but I’ll also admit that I don’t think it was the book’s fault, I was just going through a horrible reading slump, but a couple of days ago I picked it up again at it just grabbed me and didn’t let me go until the end. Edie and her mother have been running from something since Edie was little, and because of this they have never spend enough time in any place they have lived, and that’s why she doesn’t have many friends or why she hasn’t had normal experiences growing up. We meet them as they are leaving Canada and running to London, later we find out that the reason why they don’t stay very long in a single place is because they are running from Edie abusive father. Now in London Edie has a harder time to adjust and she is barely getting her footing when her mom disappears. For the rest of the book we see Edie and her friend Jermaine trying to find her mom. The detective work they do transport us through London and seeing it in the prospective of someone who is equally awed and scared of the big city. The narrative is exceptional, as I said, once I started reading it again I just couldn’t stop, the events were happening so fast, and I think the author did an amazing job with Edie, the way she reacted to the disappearance of her mother was very realistic once you take into consideration her background. She grew up mistrusting people and afraid that her father was going to find her. I think the way Mary Jennifer Payne captured the essence of adolescence was spot on, I really enjoyed this book and was definitely left wishing for a sequel.
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
Strong Potential but Not Fully Met I would like to thank Dundurn &amp; NetGalley for granting me a copy of this ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Teaser: <blockquote>Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she's in a different country.  Sydney promises her that that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn't come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.  Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she'll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.&quot;</blockquote> Edie and her mom have been on the run from her father for years. Now, they've made their biggest move of all, leaving Canada for England in the hopes of shaking him loose. Tired of the constant running Edie is just trying to fit in at her new school, one she's hoping she can stay at for at least the entire school year. She's got the art of being the new girl down pat.  But Edie's world gets turned on its ear when her mom doesn't come home from her night job. Instead of asking any adults for help, since that would risk alerting her dad to their new location, assuming that he doesn't know it already, Edie makes a choice fated to both repel and attract a new friend. Lifting the fundraising money from her class is the only thing Edie can think to do, cause they hadn't been in London long enough for her to have any savings to use for food or her search for her mom. When the theft is discovered Edie lets Jermaine, the local bad boy, take the fall for her theft. And he knows it. This is where things get interesting in this story, as we get to discover just who Edie is, and who Jermaine is. And neither one is who they seem to be to the rest of the world. In a strange twist Edie ends up confessing to Jermaine why she took the money, and he agrees to help her search for her missing mom if she promises to clear up the theft once they've located her mom. The search is certainly part of the story, but it was the emotional aspect of Edie's reaction that I found to be more compelling. Even in the midst of searching for her missing mom Edie manages to somehow go on living, though she might not think so at the time. Her resilience is pretty astonishing, as is the fact that she discovers an attraction to Jermaine. An attraction that appears to be reciprocated.  While the mystery of where her mom vanished to and why gets solved, once again that seems to take the back seat to Edie and her choices - at least for me. Edie matures almost overnight, making choices that many adults would struggle with, let alone a teenager whose mother is missing so soon after moving to a brand new country. Ms. Payne does a good job of sharing insights into Edie's thought process, while still moving the story forward at a decent clip. That she spent so much time focusing on the choices Edie makes, and the consequences of each choice, that is what made this book for me. She took it from a mild mystery into a really solid YA story, one with important messages. Those lessons aren't shoved down the reader's throat, but rather laid bare to be discovered and processed as part of the story, making them that much more palatable.
Kaylexanna More than 1 year ago
This book and I got off to a really bad start. Within the first few opening pages, I was furious at the main character and her mother, wanted nothing more to do with either of them, and was sitting in tears at a table in the food court at work. But I forced myself to go on, and while I'm glad I finished the book, it fell short for me. I'm afraid my initial reaction to the book soured it a bit for me, which isn't really the book's fault, but I'll try to go into what I liked and didn't like, aside from the book's opening. My main issue was with the main character, Edie. Over time, I've come to realize that the main character in a book doesn't necessarily need to be likable for me to enjoy the book, and Edie definitely fits the bill of an unlikable character. She's angry, lashes out often, and judges others pretty harshly. There have been plenty of other characters like her, characters that I have grown to like in spite of their cruelty to others, but I didn't feel that way with Edie for a long time. The Edie we see in some scenes seems completely separate from the Edie in other scenes, and I had a hard time reconciling the two. I wish we as readers got to know Edie better over the course of the book, that we got to know more of what her life in Canada was like, just... more. The story itself, Edie aside, is enjoyable, but I wish it had been a bit longer. There's a lot of stuff crammed into this book, especially into the last few pages, and it felt a bit overwhelming. The book brings up some really good points, and it would have been nice for a lot of those issues to be given more page time or otherwise explained in a bit more detail. I think they would have had a much bigger impression that way. At times, it felt like the reader was getting too much at once, and other times, it was very frustrating to get little hints of what was going on when we were fairly late in the story and wanted to know much more. I enjoyed Payne's writing quite a bit. I finished the book fairly quickly, despite my initial reaction, and would definitely read another one of her books in the future. (I received a copy from this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
kirstyviz More than 1 year ago
I read Since You&rsquo;ve Been Gone, wanting to sympathise in some way with Edie, but instead found myself robotically reading the story just to reach the end. I&rsquo;m not sure whether this is because, to me, it felt rushed and though Edie is the main character, it never feels like HER story. Mary Jennifer Payne&rsquo;s emphasis is on the search for Edie&rsquo;s mum and the reason why they run from city to city and country to country, on a regular basis. I also felt like there was an ulterior motive behind Jermaine&rsquo;s character. We see him less as an individual and love-interest, but as a symbol of peoples&rsquo; prejudice. The author takes her reader on a desperate journey, with Jermaine and Edie, around London and eventually we learn about Edie&rsquo;s secrets. I think that Since You&rsquo;ve Been Gone will appeal to many Young Adult readers.
lrhubble More than 1 year ago
A Great Book Contemporary, Suspense, Young Adult, Romantic Elements Toronto, Canada and London, England Edie Fraser is fifteen years old. She and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to outrun their pasts for the past five years. Things were bad before but now they are even worse. Edie is in a new school and if that wasn&rsquo;t bad enough she is now in a different country. Sydney has promised Edie that they are finally going to get a fresh start. So Edie is doing her best to adjust to their new life in London, England. In spite of the fact she is being targeted by the school bully. Then Sydney goes out to work one night and doesn&rsquo;t come home. Now Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up to them. Edie is now alone in a strange country and is too afraid to call the police for fear she will be sent back to her father who is abusive. Edie is determined to find her mother. She is now faced with the most difficult decision of her life especially since she has no idea where to start. This is a story that will pull at readers heart strings. It handles an emotional subject very well while not letting it drag the storyline down. Edie proves to be very resourceful as she goes about trying to find her mother in a place she has no idea of what is where. The story has some action and moves along at a pretty fast pace and it keeps moving forward. Reading what Edie is going through as she tries to find the answers she needs pulls the reader in until the very end. While there are some heavy subjects in the story the story itself doesn&rsquo;t get too dark or depressing and it makes for a very interesting book. This is one story that is worth taking the time to read. Received a review copy
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I&rsquo;m torn up over this book. I had grown to love Edie, her firm and preserving nature. It was always just the two of them, mother and daughter until the night her mother did not return home from her new job. Their life was far from routine and consistent as these two females were always on the run. They&rsquo;re running from a man who used violence against them, a man able to track them down anywhere, causing them to flee once again, never allowing them to settle down and plant roots. I had to wonder what part of their lives were real and which parts were fictitious for their fear of being tracked and their fear of having their cover blown were constantly on their heels. Edie&rsquo;s classmate Jermaine, whose criminal past has created quite an image, crosses paths with Edie and the two of them try to uncover the mystery of Edie&rsquo;s mom&rsquo;s disappearance. Their stories seem similar, yet are very different. They complement each other, assisting each other, talking and shedding the layers of burdens the two have been carrying all these years as they go about their task. Their relationship is simple and pure, it&rsquo;s honest and one would be a positive light, I think anyone would. When Jermaine does a heroic deed, the police now get involved looking for Edie&rsquo;s mom and suddenly the book&rsquo;s pace turned on speed. This book was spiraling out of control, the book&rsquo;s pace suddenly increased and I was not ready for how things progressed. Edie, she still continued to be my determined and assertive girl and she tried to put closure on a few issues but I believe everything just got wrapped up too quickly. I had to go back and read a few sections a couple times as I thought perhaps I missed something but no, it was coming to a close rather quickly. I guess I will have that. I received this book from NetGalley and Dundurn in exchange for an honest review.
PagesofComfort More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this book when I started. I knew a little bit about the storyline and was intrigued, so I wanted to read more. I hadn't read any of the reviews on this book, nor had heard of the author. So I went in blind a little, which I often like.  This book was only okay for me. I thought the plot was interesting and it had a lot of potential. I liked Edie as a character and I really liked Jermaine. Sydney isn't in the book too much since she goes missing, but what little she was in there, I didn't like her much. I know she was trying to protect her daughter, but she just bothered me. I think the plot was very underdeveloped and didn't grab and hold onto my attention. Yes, I finished it in a day, but it was more or less because I had the time and I did want to know what happened. That begin said, I think it could use much improvement. I don't think the characters were developed enough and neither was the storyline. 
JackieBCentralTexasJB More than 1 year ago
Read on January 15, 2015 Book Info  EBOOK, 224 pages Expected publication: February 17th 2015 by Dundurn Group ISBN 1459728203 (ISBN13: 9781459728202) other editions (2) Source:Netgalley EARC BOOK BUY Links  Amazon  B&amp;N  BOOK SYNOPSIS Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she's in a different country.  Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being TARGETED by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn't come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.  Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she&rsquo;ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life. My Thoughts 15 year old Edie and her mother Sydney have been one step ahead of the father who abused his wife and child for the last time 5 years prior. Now in London it seems their luck at evading Edie's dad has run its course. This book hits hard and fast on the topics of abuse, bullying, lives uprooted and torn APART and it never stops driving home the point that standing up for oneself is not the easiest road but it is always worth the trouble. This was chock full of the pitfalls of being a teenager coupled with the fact that the one person that should have been the family protector instead was in fact what they needed protection from. With themes ranging from addressing abusive behavior to the bullying by fellow students this was a somewhat darker YA than normally choose to read. [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
MissFictional More than 1 year ago
Since You've Been Gone was a bit of a disappointment, to be frank. I wasn't expecting a literary masterpiece, but I feel like this book that focuses on such a bleak topic could have brushed more than the surface. The romance was extremely off-kilter, the main character was irritating enough for me to want to set the book aside, and the writing needed work. I'll admit, the fact that I finished this book in one sitting is a good sign, and I'm grateful that the story was short else I would have DNFed the book.  I understand what the author was trying to do here, but I feel like there was too little plot and minimal development for it to have had much of an impact on me. I'm giving it a solid three stars because, all in all, it wasn't a bad story.
gaele More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars &ndash; rounded  I&rsquo;ve been back and forth while writing this review, wondering just what was prodding me to be uneasy with the story. Mary Jennifer Payne writes beautifully: her descriptions and emotional impact is clear to see, and the character of Edie is instantly sympathetic whether an adult or teen is reading.  The underlying reasons for Edie&rsquo;s story are all too familiar if one reads the headlines, and running away from a  bad situation does often seem the only choice for child or parent desperate to keep them safe.  Edie and her mother have fled Canada for London: Edie&rsquo;s father is horridly abusive, and Sydney is desperate to keep her daughter safe and allow her other options away from the abuse.  They&rsquo;ve been running for years &ndash; yet her father keeps finding them and the abuse  starts again. In London, Sydney believes that Edie can have that fresh start, and life will start to look more positive. But, when she  doesn&rsquo;t return home from her overnight job, Edie is convinced her father has returned &ndash; and this sends her into a series of choices made  in desperation&hellip;.  Gripping and completely engaging, Payne has latched onto the emotional angles that will grab a reader and keep them moving forward. However, there isn&rsquo;t a ton of introspection or development from Edie: she&rsquo;s most obviously holding issues of anger from both the abuse and the fact she is thrust into new situations constantly. Her own psychological ills from the abuse and anger are barely touched upon,  and her understandable yet somehow not, instant connection to Jermaine seem to contradict her own trust issues with people, men most  specifically. We also have her encounters with Precious the Mean Girl, who is simply reflecting and acting out on her own anger and hopelessness at her own family situation.   But, Payne doesn&rsquo;t attack these issues head on, she dances through them with small mentions.  And that is what has me uneasy, I think.  Teenagers are capable of dealing with the hard truths of life: it isn&rsquo;t always pretty and no one has it easy.  Learning that Precious was dealing with similar issues that caused her to regain her own power by bullying Edie MAY give teens a sense of understanding as to WHY people act as they do: it isn&rsquo;t always just because they can.  There were so many moments to expand and show with character and  scene development that these are issues, not personality, and that issues can be faced, addressed and dealt with.   What emerges is a good and gripping story that, with a touch more character development and a few more head-on attacks of the issues  could have been great, and not felt so rushed at the end.  There are often no better ways to learn than fictional stories, don&rsquo;t sell your audience short by not addressing the rough, tough and often distasteful moments that arise.  Payne is most certainly an author to watch,  and this story will appeal to teens and tweens for the character of Edie alone, I just wish there was a bit &lsquo;more&rsquo; meat on the bone.  I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
celticmaggie More than 1 year ago
I haven't read any books by Mary Jennifer before this one. She did a good job developing her people, especially the not-so-nice ones. This is one of the hardest contemporaries I have read, ever. This also means to read with a bucket in your lap for lots of tears. For me it's a walk away a lot while reading. It is a shorter read as I started and finished in one day. Edie had a rough life. She and her Mom were spending their lives running from Dad. They run from Canada to England where she is having a hard time in school. Thank goodness she makes a friend with Jermaine. He keeps her grounded through all the spoilers that hit her. This was true life and should be read to be grounded like Edie. Give this book a chance. Enjoy!  I have this book for an honest review for NetGalley.
TracyG-1 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I find myself reading yet another book where a wife and child are being abused and are on the run! Evie's dad is a real douche and he's abusive towards her and her mum.  Eventually they go on the run to escape him, but he always seems to find them so they never really get the chance to settle down and start over. This time it's not just a new school Evie must adjust to but a new country!  They go to London, and it seems that maybe, just maybe, the sun may shine on them this time despite the unwanted attention poor Evie has attracted from the school bully.  Nope, seems it was a false alarm .....Evie's mum never comes home from work and my blood runs cold.  Did her father find them again, was she attacked, is she hurt?  Questions are going through my head at a mile a minute!  I can just imagine the fear and anxiety poor Evie must be going through.  Here she is alone, in a strange country, she feels she can't turn to the authorities now what!?  My heart aches for her, and I want to climb into the book and console and support her. Evie, does find a friend in Jermaine, who has demons of his own that haunt him.  I couldn't help but wonder if it's because of their shared pain and heartache that they shared the relationship they did. I appreciate that Jennifer Payne touched on various issues that are very real in our life and society today.  Evie's story is real, raw, and honest. A four bomb read! Reviewed by Heidi