A Year of Sarah Dessen | Along for the Ride

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along-for-the-rideAlong for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: June 16th, 2009

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

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.

Angie’s Review – 4 Stars – B

Sarah Dessen has a way of writing a true to life story with everyday people who are flawed, but because we don’t have that connection to them like we do our loved ones, I think it makes us less forgiving. It does me, anyway. I found it hard to like any of the main characters in this book except for Heidi. But I think this is a gift the writer has – even if her characters aren’t likable, she still shows you the beauty in the story.

For the first half, this book felt slow to me, and I’d placed it firmly into the three stars category. It seemed like the only thing Auden had done was go to stay with her dad for the summer and hold her new baby sister. It wasn’t very exciting. Oh, and there was an off the cuff tryst Auden had that felt very out of place and out of character. But things picked up in the second half of the book. She’d taken on the bookkeeping at her stepmother’s shop and made friends with the other girls who worked there, and she met Eli, a fellow insomniac prowling around town until the wee hours of the morning. While I enjoyed these aspects of the story, it was the family dynamic that really kept me interested. Any illusions Auden had about her parents disappeared, and she began to see their faults with crystal clarity. But perhaps the most pivotal moment was when Auden started to see her stepmother through her own eyes instead of her mother’s. And it was Heidi (her stepmother) who really stole the show for me. I love that she was quick to stand up for Auden and refusing to take advantage of her. Heidi was the only person who was part of this dysfunctional family that seemed to genuinely care about it. I love the way she was portrayed. She was an overwhelmed first time mother who wasn’t afraid to ask for help. She was in over her head, and she knew it, but she never stopped trying. She really was the only decent role model Auden had, and I love that Auden came to recognize that. And again, I really enjoy the female friendships in Sarah Dessen stories. There’s an idealist and a realist, and I love the dynamic between them. In the end, Along for the Ride won me over, and I thought it was an enjoyable read.

FYI, I listened the audio of this book, and I didn’t care for this narrator. I thought she paused an awful lot in weird places. Also, I had to bump the speed up to 1.25x, but that is standard for me and I don’t mind doing that.

Rating: 4 Stars

This is my tentative reading order for my year of reading Sarah Dessen. If there’s a book you think should be added to the list or one that is so spectacular it should be moved up, feel free to let me know in the comments below!

1. Just Listen – March 2016 checkmark
2. Lock and Key – April 2016 checkmark
3. Saint Anything – May 2016 checkmark
4. The Truth About Forever – June 2016 checkmark
5. Dreamland – July 2016 checkmark
6. This Lullaby – September 2016 checkmark
7. Keeping the Moon – August 2016 checkmark
8. Along for the Ride – October 2016 checkmark
9. That Summer – November 2016
10. The Moon and More – December 2016
11. Someone Like You – January 2017
12. What Happened to Goodbye – February 2017

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