Along for the Ride

Sarah Dessen
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live. A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-03-18
Do people really change?

Auden learns from her mother that they don??. Her mother, a professor of literature, has always been the same: brilliant, independent, and a hardcore feminist. Auden?? father hasn?? changed either; he?? selfish, and neglects the needs of everyone around him except the fictional characters he creates in his books.

Auden realizes that as long as she aligns herself with her mother?? ideals, she can feel some sort of connection with her. And perhaps by spending the summer with her father, she can feel more connected with him as well.

Unfortunately, things don?? turn out the way Auden expects when she spends the summer in Colby with her father. Instead of retreating into her summer reading??extbooks??he picks up an accounting job at her stepmother Heidi?? boutique and meets a group of girls that show her what friendship is about, and a boy, who shows her how to take risks and let go.

The friendship and love that grows between Auden and Eli, the ponytail-wearing BMXer with green eyes, is slow and natural. Even though Eli was involved in a tragic accident, Auden doesn?? treat him with pity and concern like the other residents of Colby do. Instead, she spends sleepless nights with him, learning how to do things she?? never done as a child, like bowling and riding a bike.

What really excited me about the book was how invested I was in each character and their relationships, even Auden?? parents, who were the most unlikeable people on the planet after murderers and politicians. Sarah Dessen made the characters come alive through realistic dialogue and character development and she really captured the essence of being a young adult?? time when the little things can seem life-changing.

The magic of Along for the Ride is how Sarah Dessen makes the reader care so much about the little everyday things that the characters experience. It was my first Sarah Dessen book, and I?? definitely a new fan.

Quotes

?? guess everyone has that, though, right???br/>??as what???br/>??hat first love. And the first one who breaks your heart. For me, they just happen to be the same person. At least I?? efficient, right???br/>
It was terrible and awful when someone left you. You could move on, do the best you could, but like Eli had said, an ending was an ending. No matter how many pages of sentences and paragraphs of great stories led up to it, it would always have the last word. (p. 308)

My mom had always had her cold, hard shell, this brittle armor she put up between her and everyone else. But maybe, all along, she?? seen it differently. That I was not outside, banging to get in, but in there with her, protected and safe, giving her all the more reason to stay that way. (pg. 404)
Reviewed: 2009-07-12
I’m a huge Sarah Dessen fan. Whenever I read her book, I just wish there were realistic books like this when I was a young adult. Instead I endured the Babysitters Club never-ending 8th grade year that included at least 7 Christmases and summer vacations or there was the Sweet Valley Series which sometimes had werewolves. Anyway- I’ve been excited about this book Sarah posted some teaser clips on her website earlier this year. In the end, I am not disappointed.
Along For the Ride introduces us to Auden West- a recently graduated High school student who has decided to step out of her box and spend the summer visiting her dad, stepmother and new baby sister. During the summer she learns new things about herself and her family.
Pretty vague summary and many of the reviews of this book has mentioned that this pretty much Sarah Dessen’s plot device for most of her recent novels
Awkward teen+ dysfunctional family+ new group of friends (and experiences) + new slightly less awkward boy= Sarah Dessen book. I have to agree with this assessment. I noticed it as soon as I started to book and became worried that the story was going to feel “familiar”. I’m pleased to say there were no worried. Yes, it’s a similar formula, but I think what Sarah Dessen excels at is taking each one and making them unique and real. I loved Auden and I think her dad was one of the realest characters in the book (even though I didn’t like him). I liked Auden’s dynamic with her parents (or rather the way Sarah described it). It might seem like the same plot you read in Lock and Key or Just listen, but you soon realize that it’s very different and Auden feels so real and different from all the other characters. Although some people and places from Lock and Key and other Dessen books make appearances in this one- Along for the Ride is unique in its own way.
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