Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Released: June 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
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.
Anyone that reads this blog knows I heart Sarah Dessen novels more than anything. I have read her books over and over. I know when I crack one open, I will meet tons of characters that I will end up loving. I also know I will easily slip into their lives and consume myself there for however long it takes to read the book - usually in one sitting. Along for the Ride did just that for me.
Being someone who has trouble sleeping, I could relate to Auden. Although I've never had any cool quests like she endures, I still know the frustration of what no sleep brings. Seriously, if you can conk out like it's nothing, I envy the heck out of you.
Auden missing out on her childhood plays a major role in this story. She basically became a wallflower at the age of five and never came out of it even in high school. Don't make the mistake that it made her very quiet and shy. For the most part she's not. She's really sharp and how the book is written, very smart. Being the reader, you can't help but be quick to judge like she is. You think you know how all these people are going to be, but the more you read, the more you see them all unfold with pleasant surprises.
It was very interesting to see how she reacted to this 'new world'. Thankfully for her, she was in Colby (Keeping the Moon fans will remember this place and will be nicely surprised about who all pops up) and was in a Dessen novel, so you know the other characters are going to be fun. Lots of fun actually. I want to gush about the characters in this book. Because I loved them and they were great to read, but if I do, I'll end up giving all the story away. I will say, it was so easy to seem them all - Heidi, Maggie, Leah, Ester, Adam, Wallace, even the baby sister Thisbe had her own personality.
Though the story wasn't all set on a romantic relationship - more so on family and growing - I've got to talk about Eli. Might I ask, where the heck is he at when I'm up all night? It wasn't the moments were I found myself sighing over him that drew me in. As you read the story, you hear his friends talking about the old Eli. How he was before what had happened, and with Auden, you see it. Even though I loved all their moments (and wished there were more). It wasn't their relationship that really made the book for me. It was Auden. How she dealt with her family. How her mother deals with the new side of her. How she gets to experience the simplest things that most people have done. All of it was perfectly written and very enjoyable as you watch her grow throughout her summer stay.
If for some crazy reason Sarah Dessen is reading this and is trying to decide on what some of the old characters are up to these days, I vote for someone hearing a Truth Squad song on the radio.