Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Publish Date: June 16, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Group
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.
Just like Lock and Key, Along for the Ride went above and beyond the high standards I set for it. Sarah Dessen has yet again outdone herself.
Along for the Ride is only the second Dessen novel I have read and so I was surprised by the connections between L&K and AFTR. Both novels used the same schools, locations and even jewelry. The strings that held the two books together were perfect, not too much but just enough to make you think back.
One of my favorite parts of Dessen's writing is her structure. Just the other novel of hers I have read AFTR started off explaining background information about the main character. Then they were introduced to a new situation where they slowly come out of their shell with the help of a cute boy. And best of all, there is the happy ending! Okay, so that might sound corny, but Dessen uses this structure perfectly.
Firstly, I love Auden's name. It is unique but somehow familiar. I also think that it reflects her personality. Its sounds formal and studious, but also has this soft ring to it.
I think I am officially crushing on Eli. His character is so unique. Like many male characters he is beautiful and will only talk to the main female character. However he has a depth that makes him so much more than just eye candy. Although the book is centered around Auden, I felt as though Eli's character was just as developed as hers.
The complexity of relationships in this novel surprised me. There was so much conflict between Auden and every character in every second of the novel, yet there was never any confusion. With everything that was going on I always knew exactly what was happening.
I have absolutely nothing negative to say about AFTR. If I am forced to say something negative, it would be that it wasn't long enough. I never wanted it to end.
AFTR is beautifully written and highly anticipated for good reason.