Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: June 16, 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
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.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.
Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite YA authors. She writes amazing novels – in fact, she was the first YA author I read as an adult. Her books are well-written and moving, with very well developed characters.
I absolutely loved the character of Auden in Along for the Ride. Sarah Dessen really has a talent at writing sympathetic female teenagers. Auden was completely realistic – sometimes she was selfish and bratty, but more often than not she was just trying to figure out how to do the right thing. She was so damaged in her own way by her mother’s high expectations and her parents’ constant fighting and subsequent divorce. I really sympathized with her and understood her despair at not having experienced a normal teenage life.
I have to say, from an adult perspective, my favorite character in Along for the Ride was actually Maggie. Why? Because I love her as a role model for teens. Don’t get me wrong, Auden is great – smart and pretty. But Maggie is admired by everyone around her for being gorgeous and popular, but also for being unbelievably smart. It’s a wonderful thing to see in a YA book.
I loved the end message of Along for the Ride. Auden was so quick to judge much of what she saw around her, yet she was wrong in so many cases. She underestimated Maggie just because she talked about clothes and boys. She misjudged Heidi, her father’s new wife. In the end, Auden realized that she couldn’t just judge people based solely on her first impression.
Also, I loved the idea of working at something and not giving up on it. Dessen really puts forward a great message here: to be good at something, you have to work hard at it. You can’t just give up at the first obstacle, whether it be learning to ride a bike or trying to understand your family. The things that are really worth it are those you’ve worked for.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop myself here. Suffice it to say, Along for the Ride was just a great read, and I definitely recommend it!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review.