Auden acts on impulse, maybe for the first time in her life, and decides to spend the summer with her father. She has missed him since her parents’ divorce and has visions of getting some serious quality time with him before she heads off to college in the fall. In reality, Auden ends up spending more time with her stepmother, Heidi, and her brand new baby stepsister, Thisbe, as her dad locks himself away in his office to finish his long awaited second novel. Summer in the beach town of Colby, where her father and stepmother live, turns out to be just as lonely as her summer at home was looking. Until Auden begins working in Heidi’s store doing some bookkeeping and makes unlikely friends with the girly girls who work retail at the store. Until Auden meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, who shows her a nightlife unlike any she’s ever seen before. Until Auden decides to try new things and have the childhood she never enjoyed when she was a kid.
Review: First of all, like many reviews have said, this is a Sarah Dessen novel. It follows the same patterns all of Sarah Dessen’s novels have followed. Yes, they are all similar but this does not bother me, yet. Right now, I find Dessen’s novels comfortable like my favorite jeans, t-shirt, and sweatshirt combo. I enjoy them and greatly look forward to them.
Moving on, I think Along for the Ride is one of my favorite Dessen novels, though it still cannot trump my beloved Just Listen. I’m trying to pinpoint exactly what it was about the book that spoke to me and I’m not quite sure. I don’t think I could relate to Auden on a personal level. Though I was driven in school, not nearly to the same extent as Auden, who was uberdriven. Though I wasn’t necessarily a social butterfly, I certainly had more of a life and more of a childhood than Auden. That being said, I could really relate with Auden’s journey. I enjoyed Auden’s discovery of views outside those of her parents and her quest to reclaim a small bit of her childhood. Both Auden’s parents are strong personalities and Auden spent much of her life conforming to their expectations without, perhaps, figuring out exactly what she wants out of life or without viewing the world through her own lens. I also think Auden learned the very important but hard to take lesson that your parents are people too, flawed just like everyone else. I believe most teenagers probably understand this to some extent but I think it takes a measure of personal growth before the parents as people idea really sinks in. Auden was able to view both of her parents with a more mature eye by the end of the book. For example, Auden’s mother seems very self-centric, and in many instances she is exactly that, but by the end of the book the reader and Auden know that despite her flaws she really does love Auden and want the best for her.
And then there is Eli. I will just say that I really enjoyed the dynamic between Eli and Auden and how they both helped each other move on and grow into the future. Very nice.
I don’t approve of:
- The cover. Auden would not be caught dead in pink, even with her new, more “enlightened” mindset. Ever. Especially not pink with polka dots. Not Auden. And, I definitely didn’t picture Eli (whom I am assuming is the guy on the cover) as a character from grease but more skater (in this case biker) dude.
- The booktrailer. It relates to maybe 1% of the story and tells you nothing about the true plot line. Instead of linking the booktrailer, here is a video of Sarah Dessen reading from the part of the book the booktrailer represents but the reading actually gives you a sense of who Auden is and of her new summer surroundings.