Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Zen and Gone” as Want to Read:
Zen and Gone
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Zen and Gone

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  248 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any seventeen-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck.

When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful o
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published July 3rd 2018 by Soho Teen
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Zen and Gone, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Zen and Gone

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  248 ratings  ·  57 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Zen and Gone
✨ elsa ✨
Jun 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF @ 40%

Nope. I don’t want to see a book about weed. I don’t want to see another romance contemporary. I don’t care if you go out and you lose your sister because you are basically an irresponsible brat teen whose only focus is her boyfriend. N O P E.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Emily France’s sophomore novel, ZEN AND GONE, is a multi-perspective story that looks to explore the relations we share with each other and the world around us. At 17 years old, Essence McKree has learned to become a mother figure to her younger sister, Puck. With weed legalized in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado, Essence’s mother spends much of her time high, obtaining marijuana from the pot shop where she works. This reality forces Essa to live a very strict lifestyle --- no drinking, no dru ...more
Colleen Oakes
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, young-adult, fiction
I loved every moment of Zen and Gone. A lovely, chiming tale with it's root in Buddhist philosophy, Zen and Gone is a tale of two young people finding themselves inside of discovering each other. Set in a very realistic Boulder, Zen and Gone reaches out to explore material not normally covered in YA: parents who smoke weed, a hippie town, kites stores, camping groups, and deep philosophical conversations, but it also goes places that you want a YA book to go: kissing, crushes, coming of age jour ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-edelweiss
3.5 Stars

Author Emily France's Zen and Gone evolves around Essa (Essence) McKree, a parentified teen who is struggling to manage her mother's health problems and care for her much loved younger sister, Puck. Puck is an endearing and clever child, frustrated by her mother's lack of engagement. Their mother has managed to date half of Boulder, Colorado from their perspective and is now dating a new guy, Ronnie, who has thoughts of uprooting them and moving to Oregon in a mobile home. Thus, Essa an
Samantha (WLABB)
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2018, arcs, ya
Essa had to assume the role of grown-up way before her time. She had been able to maintain her sanity via orienteering and Zen Buddhism, but will she be able to keep from cracking under all the pressure, when her sister goes missing?

• Pro: Justifiably angsty and super deep, Essa had a lot on her plate. At 17, she had to be the parent to both her pot-head mother and her little sister, Puck. I admired her devotion to her little sister, as well as resistance to drugs and alcohol as a means of escap
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Goodreads Synopsis:
Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any seventeen-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck.

When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful of the tourist crowd and suspicious of Oliver’s mysterious past in Chicago. But Puck is charmed and pushes
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dissapointed, arcs
Essa may still be in high school, but she’s the breadwinner and most reliable person in the family. Her mom can barely keep a job, is in and out of relationships, smokes pot and drinks alcohol, and lives in her own fantasy land 24/7. That leaves Essa to watch over her little sister Puck who is a wild child in a carefree sense. When new guy Oliver moves into town and gets a job at the kite shop where Essa works, Essa slowly begins to form a bond with him over a similar fear for their sisters. It ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the Buddhism aspects of the book. It definitely made things more interesting. I liked that the novel was told from different points of view. This allowed me to feel like I knew the characters a bit better. The beginning of the book really grabbed my attention and I kept reading to find out how and why this scenario occurred. Overall I enjoyed this book and think that young adults would as well.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I really enjoyed the detail that was put into all of the different scenes in this book, and the KITES. I'd probably recommend for the older teen who enjoys mild adventure novels with a little teen romance thrown in.

I will note the use of marijuana in the book, by adults, and also teens at times.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good YA novel about a " caretaker " teen who takes care of her younger sister because their mother is doing drugs. Enter another teen who could not cure his sister's chronic illness and we've got a story. Some readers might feel there is too much Zen Buddhism in the story, but what do you expect in a book called Zen and Gone?
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Makes me want to move to Boulder

Or maybe take up orienteering, or at least pay more attention to the world around me.

This is a beautiful story with great characters in a richly drawn world, who choose to live in the moment rather than escape from their problems.
Carolyn Elaine
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Essence lives her life on edge. Since marijuana is legalized in Colorado, Essa's mother smokes weed every single day of her life, so she can't really be accountable for taking care of Essa or her nine year old little sister, Puck. To maintain her anxiety of taking care and protecting Puck, Essa practices Zen, and it calms her nerves.

When Oliver's parents send him to spend the summer with his aunt in Colorado, he's not really up for it. Oliver is more of an indoor type of person, but nevertheles
Brittany | thebookishfiiasco
wowza, that was a journey! i definitely did not know what i was in for, but this story certainly packed a punch. feeling so grateful to soho teen for sending this one my way 🌿
what stuck with me is the relationships between siblings, despite any absence of parents. throughout the story, i was struck by the depth and commitment of that connection, and even more by the ability to share it with another person. the way Essa and Oliver describe their relationships to their siblings— it’s complicated.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cute book. It went a direction I was not expecting I like how it kept the theme of a Buddha is him throughout the entire book, Though I do not share the Faith the characters were very vibrant And reel to life the ending was a little far-fetched for me though still highly recommended
Jerry Peace
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
"What is Buddha?" "No mind, no Buddha."
Jean Huber Bookmama789
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Zen and Gone By Emily France is an intellectual fictional tale that takes contemporary YA lit to a higher level (no pun intended). In Zen an Gone Emily France does not shy away from the hard issues that face teens today, such as divorce, drug addiction, suicide, mental health, and religion. She creates rich characters in a deeply atmospheric setting to weave a story that not only teaches the reader a thing or two about zen but also really draws you into the lives of the charters the author has c ...more
Essa was plunged back into unrelenting blackness. And in this new darkness, she knew one thing. She hadn't kept Puck safe. She had failed.

Essence McKree is probably the oldest seventeen-year-old in Boulder, Colorado. Her mother's always been a little off-kilter, but ever since weed was legalized in the state, she spends most of her time high, leaving Essa to take care of her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver, who is spending the summer with his aunt, she feels like she needs
Miguel (cityoflostdivergent)
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of Zen and Gone by the publisher, SoHo Teen in exchange for an honest review.
I'm just going to start this review by saying that can we all agree that Emily France's writing is purely beautiful?! She wrote Colorado, mountains, and the forest absolutely phenomenal. This book does take place in Boulder, Colorado, and how the author just wrote was amazing, I was not disappointed. I had a whole lot of hopes for the scenery of the book and it checked out perfectly!!
Zen and Gone foll
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This one was an interesting read for me. There were aspects I liked, but as a whole it just didn’t quite click.

Essa is our main female protagonist, and though she is only in high school, she is the parental figure in her household, working and taking care of both herself, and her little sister Puck because their mother is too busy getting high on weed and dating a slew of unsavory men. Essa is kind of cold and stand-offish with anyone who isn’t her sister. She has friends, but she doesn’t treat
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, read-in-2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thanks to NetGalley & Soho Teen for a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen year old Essa, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, spends her days working at a local kite shop, Above the Clouds, and looking out for her nine year old sister, Puck, who is practically a genius. After all, Essa and Puck’s Mom can’t be counted on for much of anything now that weed has been legalized in Colorado. Devoting all of her attention to drugs and her string of boyfriends, she doesn’t hav
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Wavering between 2 and 3 stars for this one. I can't tell you how many time I rolled my eyes at the beginning of this one. The author lives in Colorado and SHE. WANTS. YOU. TO. KNOW. IT. We all smoke pot, twirl our hula hoops around and behave like hippies. No one dresses like us anywhere else in the US in (gasp!) skirts and (the horror!) tank tops.

Oliver's relationship with his sister is probably the most interesting part of the whole book, but I felt it was glossed over. This group of kids wh
Apr 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: my-library
This book is about Essa and Oliver, two teens from very different backgrounds but with one major commonality, they have sister issues. Essa takes it upon herself to take of herself and her nine-year-old sister Puck due to a mother who's checked out and high regularly. Oliver, from Chicago, has a sister who is "sick" and a secret that he won't share. Essa and Oliver get to know one another via orienteering, Zen Buddhism, and a job at the same kite shop. While on an orienteering weekend gone wrong ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Colorado native here and who boy.
First of all, weed. I would like to note that you cannot under any circumstances be high when working at a dispensary or 'pot shop'(I have never heard this used once. This is more highly regulated than other traditional businesses due to the tenuous legality of thenesablishment.
Second, that is not Boulder Colorado. Boulder is a college town, home of one of the big three universities in Colorado, Colorado University. It is also known for being home to people with
Morgan Garratt
First Personal then work

So I really liked this book it has good connection and is all about family however
personally I find the "stoner mom" problematic. If she weren't a stoners she'd be a wine mom, be a quaaludes or a xanax Mom. I want the statement made that drug abusers that are avoiding their life will do so with any drug not just cannabis.
Making this a cannabis issue is not the best, but I understand that it can and does address an issue that can come with legalized drugs. Also it makes
I received this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Essa lives with her mom and sister, Puck, in Colorado. Her mother works at a marijuana dispensary and is high all of the time, which leaves Essa with the responsibility of taking care of her genius sister. Essa can’t wait to graduate and move away from her deadbeat mom, but she is still has a strong connection to her sister.
Oliver lives in Chicago, but after a blowout with his sister, which ended with her in the hospital, Oliver
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first saw this book in Powell's in Portland when I was on a cross country trip. Each subsequent book store I went to across the country had the book, and its cover and title caught me right away (and the fact that it was set in Boulder-- one of our road trip destinations). So I was surprised when I came home to check it out from my library and it wasn't in the system. I requested it for my library, read it, and I can say-- I think this is an important book that should be in any YA library sect ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star, read-2018, ebook, arc
I picked the book up at the exact right time, I had read a little about Zen, like, two days before picking this up.

A few thoughts:
• I saw a few people saying it was a fast paced book and I have no idea why, it was quite slow???
• Puck is a cute little smart kid, BUT (huge spoiler that gives away most of the plot) (view spoiler)
Eliza Dery
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is set in Boulder Colorado and is about a teenage girl who works at a kite shop on Pearl Street and lives with her mother and younger sister Puck. The mom is rather absent from the lives of her two girls in that she is constantly under the influence of drugs. There fore the two girls are very dependent on each other. Es the older daughter finds solace through Zen meditation and spending time with her friends in wilderness settings.
Her and her sisters summer changes when a teenage boy n
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • 500 Words or Less
  • Since We Last Spoke
  • Notes from My Captivity
  • Wild and Crooked
  • Cold Hard Truth
  • Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe
  • Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land
  • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
  • Black Canary: Ignite
  • Winterwood
  • Frostheart (Frostheart #1)
  • Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein's Creator
  • A River of Royal Blood (A River of Royal Blood, #1)
  • Blood Heir (Blood Heir Trilogy, #1)
  • Unpregnant
  • Eliza Rose
  • Return of the Temujai (Brotherband Chronicles, #8)
  • Full Disclosure
See similar books…
Emily France graduated from Brown University before going on to law school, where she was the editor-in-chief of the law review. She finds creative inspiration in all things spiritual, from sitting with Benedictine monks for 4 a.m. vigils in a Rocky Mountain monastery to trekking to Buddhist and Hindu temples in India. Now she writes full-time and lives with her husband and their fearless Tibetan ...more

Related Articles

In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
37 likes · 26 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »