Sunday, October 18, 2009

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Genre: YA Fiction
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 383
Book Source: Library borrow

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.

This was my first Sarah Dessen novel and it certainly won't be my last. Along For The Ride was such an enjoyable story, easy to read, character driven, with a lot more to it than just "boy meets girl." It's about growing up and finding yourself,  it's about seeing things how they really are, not how you'd like them to be, it's about making mistakes and facing life head on, it's sad and funny and romantic and entirely relatable.

Auden chooses to spend her summer before starting college with her father & stepmother Heidi and her new baby sister Thisbe, and her anticipated carefree summer quickly becomes far more than she imagined. Dessen writes relationships really well, they ring true and  while I disliked Auden's parents, I enjoyed seeing the change in dynamics as Auden takes off the rose coloured glasses of youth. I liked Heidi, actually I liked her a lot and I felt a huge amount of empathy for this sleep deprived, exhausted and emotionally distraught new mother & it was nice to see Auden's relationship with her stepmother grow and change. And lets not forget the secondary characters, Ms Dessen certainly doesn't. I loved Auden's new friends, Maggie and Adam and I adored Auden's brother Hollis's words of wisdom.

"You're always a kid around your parents," he repled. "Unless they're acting like children. Then you don't get the chance. You know what I'm saying?"

Auden isn't the type of character I'm usually captivated by. She's a perfectionist, academically driven, reserved, emotionally repressed and socially awkward but I liked her and I found myself invested in her quest to experience the normal everyday things she missed out on as a child; making friends, gossiping with girlfriends, paper deliveries, playing hooky, riding a bike, having a boyfriend, going to parties. When Auden meets Eli, their common bond of insomnia opens a door on a whole new world for Auden & the quest provides a unique setting for their friendship to flourish into something more.

Sarah Dessen says on her website, the inspiration for Along For The Ride came not long after her daughter was born and for me it's pretty clear that this story comes from a place of honesty and personal experience.

"There was a whole other world at night, one I’d been completely unaware of, and it made me start thinking about the people who chose to live in it, and how they found themselves there. That’s where Auden’s story began."

So to all the Sarah Dessen fans out there, which novel should I read next??

Visit Sarah Dessen's website and blog to find out more about this wonderful author.

To celebrate my 1st Blogoversary two lucky readers can take their pick from a choice of 6 books in this month's spookalicious competition. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. My favorite is The Truth About Forever. But, I really enjoyed this one too!

  2. Welcome to the Sarah Dessen fan club. I must warn you that if not obsessed already, you will be very soon haha. ;)

    My personal favourite has always been The Truth About Forever. You will understand why when you read it. Also, This Lullaby is incredible as is Just Listen. But you can't go wrong with any of her novels.

  3. I also vote for The Truth About Forever. Just Listen is very good. Actually, everything by Sarah Dessen is really good.

  4. This was my first SD novel too =) I'm glad you liked it. Auden isn't the usual character I go for but I really liked her.

  5. This was my first SD novel too =) I'm glad you liked it. Auden isn't the usual character I go for but I really liked her.

  6. Glad you liked it :)
    I tried one but could not get into it, too teen, hm

  7. This was my first SD novel too and the only one I've read so far but I want to read more. I loved this one too.

  8. I read This Lullaby several months back. I thought it was a good read. I am no Sarah Dresden expert so I am not certain if that should be your next read.
    Her book, for me, was certainly a teenage angst read.

  9. Umm...Hello? Can I spell the author's last name correctly? Apparently not.
    I meant Dessen not Dresden. That goes to show you that I always want to say "Dresden" when I read her last name. Ooops.

  10. I'm so thrilled that you enjoyed this one!! I loved them I would just tell you to start at the beginning and work your way through them!!

  11. Thanks everyone, well after comments so far looks like The Truth about Forever might be up next.

  12. Great review, you might have to pass that one over the fence for me to read LOL.

    Good to see you got another review done this week.

  13. Haven't read any of her books,but they sound worthwhile!

  14. In 2010, I'll start reading books my this author. I signed up on a reading challenge just for this purpose!

  15. Great review. I'veonly read "Just Listen" by Sarah Dessen.

  16. Nice review. Sarah Dessen is one of my fav YA writers ..Her books though look very common themed on first look have really good message to impart..

  17. I need to read Dessen and this looks like a good place to start.

  18. Lock & Key should be on your list :).

    Terrific review!

  19. I haven't read Sarah Dessen yet, sounds like an interesting and fun read.

    I've been looking at Dessen, so now I have to find move on the shelves for another book!

    Dottie :)

  20. My teen daughter and I love Sarah Dessen. She has read several, but I've only read the truth about forever so far and I absolutely LOVED it. Just talking about it makes me want to reread it! Dessen is a fantastic story teller of contemporary teen lit. She has the ability to turn something every day into a very powerful story.

  21. Welcome to the Fan Club Girl! But I have read only one book... so I can only recommend that .. Just Listen!

    I have read good reviews of this one.. and I am sure I will pick this one up soon :)


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