Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Pages: 383
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 11, 2009
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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." 
Like many teenagers today, Auden's parents are divorced and consequently, she will spend the summer with her dad at his beach house in Colby along with his wife and new baby.  Auden's mother is uptight and mostly focuses on the world of academia and in turn, Auden has become the same way.  While hanging out at the beach house, she finds that her dad spends most of his dad locked away writing his novel and her step mom, Heidi, is balancing her life as a new mom.  Auden, a self proclaimed night owl, wanders Colby at night and ends up meeting Eli, a fellow insomniac.  Through their relationship, Auden finally learns how to relax and, dare I say it, have a little fun.  She even makes friends working at Heidi's clothing boutique and in the past, Auden never really had time for girlfriends.  As Auden and Eli's relationship progresses, Auden comes to find that Eli has some issues of his own that he needs to get past and this becomes a summer of growth and self-discovery for both.  Sarah Dessen, one of the best young adult authors out there, knows how to weave a coming of age tale that is both heartwarming and thought provoking.  This is especially evident in Along for the Ride.

In my opinion, Dessen is the master of realistic fiction for females.  Her summer romances are extremely realistic and her books never disappoint me as I have read most of them, but ironically, haven't reviewed any since I read them prior to getting my blog.  But Dessen truly knows how to capture an important summer filled with fun and emotional breakthroughs.  Her novels are never just about summer fun; they always tend to delve into some kind of real life issue and readers end up pondering the situation.  In other words, Dessen's novels always require me to think.  Another thing I love about Dessen's novels is the fact that her characters from previous books always make appearances in the current book...sort of like a cross-over.  If you are an avid Dessen reader, you will notice this in Along for the Ride, which I felt was a really nice touch on Dessen's part.

Auden is one of my favorite Dessen characters. First of all, I love the literary name and on a personal level, I can relate to her quite easily.  Simply said, she's a character that readers can root for.  I enjoyed watching her branch out emotionally and socially through her relationships with her friends, Eli and her parents.  A lot of students today don't allow room for failure and don't allow themselves to have fun.  This was true of Auden until the summer she visited Colby, so I can see a lot of people relating to her and problems.  On the other hand, I did feel some of the minor characters could have been developed  a bit more, but other than that I felt this book was flawless.

Dessen's town of Colby reminded me so much of the beach towns I go to during the summer every year.  The descriptions of the beach, the neighborhoods, the restaurants and boutiques were very similar to the vacation towns I frequent.  It was like stepping into the town of Stone Harbor and Avalon, New Jersey, which are two of my favorite beach towns; however, I know Colby is based on Emerald Isle. (Watch the Dessen interview below for more information.)  As a beach fanatic, I felt like Dessen truly knows her beach settings and created an unforgettable one in Along for the Ride.

All in all, Along for the Ride is another Dessen success that cannot be missed as Dessen fans will absolutely love this one.  I know it's too late to pack this novel in your beach bag, but if you want one last delicious taste of summer, you must read this novel!

*Watch Sarah Dessen talk about Along for the Ride

*Watch Dessen talk about Emerald Isle, the town which Colby is based on.


  1. I really loved this book - I think it's one of my favourite Sarah Dessen books (The Truth About Forever being the other one), but it's so hard to choose because I have about 4 or 5 that I really love. Nice review! It made me want to pick up the book again.

  2. Ashley- I agree! TTAF is my favorite Dessen- soo good! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I absolutely love Sarah Dessen but only really discovered her this past summer. I pretty much had a "Sarah Dessen week" in which I read a book of hers each day. I loved Along for the Ride. One thing I love about her books, aside from the great plot and realistic characters/dialogue, is that she includes brief mentions of other characters from different books of hers.

  4. FAB review. I bet my sister would dig this one.


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