Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: June 16, 2009
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. (taken from goodreads.com)
Even though Along for the Ride isn't a short novel at 383 pages, I devoured it in one day. I don't know what it is, but something about Sarah Dessen's style makes it easy to spend a day by the poolside with only her book for company. I didn't even realize how quickly I had read until I reached the second to last chapter. That, my friend, is the sign of a talented writer.
Having said that, I did have a few problems with this Dessen novel. Don't get me wrong, I think Dessen is extremely gifted in the area of young adult literature. She is adept at analyzing teenage girls and conveying their insecurities, hopes, dreams, and fears in her tales. However, I disliked Auden. I tried to make myself relate to her, but I just couldn't. She comes across as so guarded and unfriendly. Yes, yes, I know that makes her more of an authentic character, but come on. It's hard to enjoy reading about a girl who rarely finds joy in anything.
Also, not many events actually take place in the story. Honestly, most of the plot centers around Auden and her ordinary summer days. While I wouldn't say that I was bored, I definitely wasn't on the edge of my seat.
I'd say Dessen's most prominent talent is her ability to develop authentic relationships between characters. Whether it be family members or a dating relationship, she truly draws upon deep emotions that every reader can relate to. The most entertaining aspect of the novel by far is Auden's relationship with Eli, the quiet and serious boy who accompanies Auden on her late night errands. It was an intriguing concept- a romance that blossoms while bowling or shopping in the wee hours of the morning.
Overall, I'd say that I enjoyed Along for the Ride. An easy read, it offers a story of cute romance and realistic family interactions. I'll always be a fan of Sarah Dessen, even though this one probably wasn't my favorite of hers. I plan to check out her other novels soon!