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Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

YOU CAN’T HIDE FOREVER.

Topics of Interest: London, survival, domestic abuse, adventure, bullying, fear, death

Curriculum Connections: English

Gender: F/M

Age: 12+

Blurb: Two summers ago, while visiting London, I was kicked out of the Globe Theatre. Apparently I had overstayed my welcome. I was there to see a performance of Macbeth, which was awesome (even though a grouchy old woman shushed me when I was whispering a significant plot line to my niece), and I just couldn’t bring myself to leave once it was over.

I have three University degrees in English/Education, and there I was sitting in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I revelled in the history of the place until a very firm, albeit polite theatre employee informed me that he couldn’t lock up until I exited. I left reluctantly, but not before I hugged the side of the building. I hope it still bears my face imprint.

Edie Fraser, in Since You’ve Been Gone, lives in London but doesn’t do fun stuff like attend plays. She’s too busy looking for her mom who didn’t come home after work. She can’t notify the police out of fear that they’ll return her to her abusive father—the reason she and her mom left Canada and who Edie is frightened has found them again.

Edie’s used to hiding, but she has no idea how to find someone. Alone in a city she doesn’t know how to navigate, with no money and no friends, Edie stoops to desperate measures to discover the fate of her mother.

Getting caught for lying and stealing doesn’t terrify Edie nearly as much as her realization of what she’ll need to do to find the truth. She has a hard enough time defending herself against the school bully; how will she ever survive what’s coming next?

Flavour: “My life is never stable….The frustrating thing is that each time my life changes, I leave little pieces of myself behind. Sometimes it’s a photograph or a gift I really liked or even just a project I did at school that I was really proud of. More often, it’s a best friend, a supportive teacher, or a boy I’m crushing on. I was ten years old when we began running and I’ve been leaving pieces of myself, of my heart, in different apartments, cities, and schools ever since.” (11-12)

“I dig my fingernails into the fleshy pad of my palm, distracting myself with the pain. Mr. Middleton is so wrong. Did he really forget what it’s like to be a teenager? We’re hardly a team. It’s more like the survival of the fittest. Not a day goes by when someone isn’t bullied, whether or online or in person.” (79)

“Enough. There’s no time to sit and cry. After what happened today with the community police officers stalking me outside my flat, I’m positive Mom’s in trouble. Serious trouble. And likely I’m in it up to my neck as well.” (97-98)

“When I was a little girl, my life looked perfect from the outside. My dad is a psychologist for the police and we had a really nice house with two cars and a big yard. We went on nice vacations. I’ve even been to Disney World in Florida twice. No one knew the truth of what was happening in our house, though.” (131-32)

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