November 25, 2014

Latest Read: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Publication date: June 16, 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Purchased
Summary: 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
I haven’t read many Sarah Dessen books. In fact, Along for the Ride is only my third and I’m happy to say I really enjoyed it! I wanted something light, not too heavy on the drama, had a cute romance and was quick to read. Along for the Ride satisfied all these things. Auden has been caught in the middle of her family troubles almost all her life. Her parents were always fighting and post-divorce, her father continues to be MIA and her mother continues to be controlling and self-involved. She also has an older brother but he’s spent the last couple of years gallivanting around the world, without a care in the world. That leaves Auden, who always felt like she needed to make up for the drama and instability by being the perfect daughter. Quietly following all her mother’s rules and focusing on academics 24/7. But it’s taken its toll on her. She can’t sleep at night. She knows nothing about friendships or guys or anything remotely social in nature. She keeps to herself. Then she decides to spend a summer with her father, her stepmother and her newborn half-sister and her whole view on life changes. For the better.

Auden is one of those classic cases of being book smart but when it comes to being street smart (or rather, life smart)? She’s about as clueless as you can get. It doesn’t help that her mom has been brainwashing her with her own rigid views of what means to be a successful woman of substance. So when I say that Auden has some perceptions in need of fixing - I mean, she really needs some eye-opening experiences. And I think that’s why I ended up enjoying this book more than I expected to. The stepmother she brushed off as being a blonde airhead is actually a kind woman who made a choice in her life and shows Auden affection (which she eventually returns). She’s a witness to her parents flaws more than ever but instead of hiding away from the truth, she finally makes a stand against them. First through silent treatment and later by communication. But best part of all - she makes friends. There’s a group of girls she meets and starts to work with at her stepmother’s store and for the life of her, she can’t understand them and their constant going out/candy/clothes/boy chatter. But they’re always nice to her and when she starts to hang out with them, she realizes there’s more to them than meets the eye. They unknowingly help her realize something, and I love the passage that sums it up: “Maybe it was true, and being a girl could be about interest rates and skinny jeans, riding bikes and wearing pink. Not about any one thing, but everything.”

But a summer away wouldn’t be complete without a boy in the picture! This is where quiet and brooding Eli comes in. Auden and Eli interest each other mostly due to their fellow loner ways and after a few conversations, start to seek each other out. Then they realize they’re both insomniacs and that’s where the chemistry between them really kicks in. What I’ve noticed about Dessen’s relationships is that we are always privy to conversations between the couple and their emotional connection. And there’s always something fun. In Eli and Auden’s case, they have these nighttime adventures that also lets Auden explore the childhood she never really had and they talk. This is super important to me if I’m going to feel invested in a couple.

(Super minor) reservations
I did think the part of the ending that dealt with Eli and Auden felt slightly rushed but that's about it.

Do I recommend?
I do! Even though I wouldn’t consider Sarah Dessen one of my favorite authors, I really enjoy her books when I’m in the right mood for them and this is my second fave (after The Truth About Goodbye).

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. YAY! I'm really happy you liked ALONG FOR THE RIDE. It's definitely one of my all-time favorite Dessen novels, as I absolutely loved Auden and Eli. There was just something about Auden that I found truly easy to relate to, so that definitely was a huge reason I loved it.

    ReplyDelete