Published by Puffin on June, 2009
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Romance
Itâ€™s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parentsâ€™ divorceâ€”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 sheâ€™s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
I felt like a break from the supernatural reads, and who better to go to than Sarah Dessen? I was not disappointed at all with Along for the Ride. It was superb!
The most common thing I find in reviews for this book is that it’s basically a copy of all her other books. I’ve only read this book and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, and although I can see the similarities, I really think this one stands on its own two feet. I really enjoyed all the characters (except Auden’s parents, but we’ll get to them in due time) and even without the heavy dash of romance it’s a great coming-of-age tale.
Eli, the love interest, is pretty much a blank canvas, but that’s okay because he’s not the main focus of this story. Sarah Dessen is able to bring you into the world of her protaganist, let you feel their feelings and also go through the changes they go through from page one to end. You feel the character transforming and I think that’s what this story is supposed to be about. Transformation.
Auden lacks social skills… that’s an understatement. She’s has NO IDEA how to deal with people her own age, bullies or boys. Maybe someone can clarify for me: Did Auden sleep with Jake within the first few chapters, or did the two just go through a heavy makeout session in the sand? Maybe I’m missing an important detail here that solves this riddle once and for all, but, all I can say is, weird social skills or not, if Auden did sleep with Jake on that first night, I think that’s more than lack of judgement… but anyway…
Auden’s father was absolutely AWFUL! I would’ve slapped some sense into that man as soon as I saw him trying to ‘get out’ of having any baby duties. Nine hours of solid sleep, my ass! That man is possibly the most selfish character I’ve ever come across… and he tries to make it seem like he’s doing everyone else a favour by being that self-centered! Come on! I don’t know why Auden put up with him as long as she did; or anyone for that matter! Sarah Dessen did a great job of making me hate him, but I don’t know why nobody in the story seemed to do much about it.
I loved the use of bikes in this novel. It’s really something you don’t see featured so heavily in YA contemporary that much anymore. We’ve all moved on to cars, skateboards, scooters, etc… and Auden used learning to ride a bike as a sort of therapy, which was great. It really fixed a lot of her problems, inside and out, and she was able to use her new skills to turn things around and take a leap of faith.
I was utterly, deeply immersed in this story from start to finish. I dare you to read it and not do the same! You will feel attached to the characters and places, I assure you. I could also relate heavily to Auden and Eli’s dilemma of not sleeping properly at night. More than often I get my sleeping pattern turned around backwards, being awake at night and asleep by day, so I really found myself wishing I had someone to go on adventures with…
Recommended to: Any fans of contemporary teen stories. I think Sarah Dessen is pretty much the go-to already. Still, if you haven’t tried Along for the Ride yet, I’m urging you to give it a go!