Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Book Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

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.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Along for the Ride stole my heart.
“Relationships dont always make sense. Especially from the outside” -- Eli
Introduction --Not that I needed to be reminded why I love reading, but this book did just that. It was a quick read that kept me glued to the pages. Dessen really has a talent for contemporary works and character development.

Auden was never a social butterfly. Her friends were books --and not the fluffy kind -- but the kind that were full of facts. Studying, being the best, and living up to her mother's expectations was Auden's main focus.

When Auden goes to stay with her father, step-mother, and new baby sister for the summer, she wasn't expecting her life to change.

She wasn't expecting to meet the gorgeous Eli. And she wasn't expecting to start spending her sleepless nights with him.

The Plot -- Do you believe in second chances? Can people really change their ways? Dessen approaches these questions in many ways throughout the book. And ultimately, the MCs have to decided if they fit into the "yes change" or the "stay the same" category.

Characters -- To me the plot was great and I liked the main theme, but the characters were amazing. The majority of them were fluffed out, expanded on, and showed strengths AND weakness. It was marvelous -- and because of that, many of the characters of this book will stick with me.

I love Eli. I love how he's reserved but still respected. I like how Dessen wrote him with longer hair (I'm sucker for guys with longer hair) and how she gave him a signature blue sweatshirt. He fits the look of a biker (like BMX kinda stuff) which is good because he is talented in the deparment. But Eli is blocking people out his life and problems -- not wanting their sympathy or help.

That is...till he meets Auden. She sees the world through a black and white filter -- everything is very literal and based on facts. Her comments especially as she began to break out of her non social zone caused me to literally laugh out loud. Such as:

"What's your name, skank? At first, I thought this was both a question - what's your name?--and an answer."
They form a friendship. A friendship that unlocks the past and pushes towards the future.

Auden's new girlfriends. I love how each are fully fleshed out and their personalities leap from the pages. They are awesome, fun, tell-it-like-it-is friends that have scheduled one song long dance parties. Everything that a good group of friends should be, and when Auden starts her job at the boutique she has to deal with them more and more.

Maggie. I especially loved Maggie -- the fact that she can tell you what shade lipstick to wear, how to invest your money, and do tricks on a bike is phenomenal. She was one of my favorite characters and I would love to see a book about her.

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.” --Auden
Auden and Heidi have a complex relationship. Any girl and step mom do, especially with a new baby in the house. But Auden slowly realizes that her dad's new "barbie" wife is more than she seems.

Heidi is particularlly stresse about being a new mom and dealing constantly with a sqwalling baby. I liked that she seemed weak but had some strong moments. She wants to put her family first and of course she is dealing with her far share of post pregnant lady hormones.

Auden's mom is complex and standoffish. No wonder Auden feels stressed to impress her.

Her dad. But it was her dad was who I really wanted to hit upside the head. If I push a baby out, you best believe that I will actually like the name given. He was so ridiculous with his required nine hours of sleep. I really couldn't see what Heidi saw in him. I wish that could have been fluffed out more because I found him annoying and obviously selfish.

Setting -- The ocean *sigh*. I love books set at the beach. It is the perfect beach read. Warning though, you may have an onion ring craving after reading this. (I sure did).

Romance -- Okay...I loved Auden and Eli's friendship. There was something so simple and innocent but exciting about them.

And Eli is a gem -- total book boyfriend alert, right here, ladies. He was so sweet to Auden. Dessen had me floating with romance happiness bubble a few times.

A food fight?!?! Um...yes.

It was so weird, because usually I was totally nervous talking to guys. But Eli was different. He made me want to say more, not less. Which was maybe not a good thing.” --Auden
The Bikes. I loved the added touch of everyone being into biking. It made the town seem more beachy (you know you always see tons of bikes at the beach) and I found the bike scenes really interesting.

“If you're not getting hurt, you're not riding hard enough.” -- Adam
Didn't like? I feel like the whole Jake thing could be expanded on more. Especially between Eli and Auden. Jake was the guy Auden first "flirted" with when she got to town. And Jake and Eli are brothers. Don't worry it doesn't go all Salvatore crazy -- but it could still use a bit more expansion.

Summer takes Auden through family problems, the joys of being a big sister, learning about the benfits of true friendships, and gives her a chance at first love. The problem remains though-- will she let it in?

See for yourself and grab a copy of this wonderful book. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.


  1. I'm going to be reading my first Dessen book soon (I won it in a giveaway). People rave about her, so I'm excited to read it. I'll definitely have to read this one too!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Which book did you win? I've read about three of hers -- loved two and only enjoyed one.