Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Published: June 16th, 2009 (Viking Juvenile)
Buy the book: Bookdepository
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.
I had high expectations of this book. After reading (and loving!) This Lullaby and Lock and Key, and enjoying two more of her books, I was hoping this would be just as good. It wasn’t. For me personally, this is my least favourite Sarah Dessen book, even though it was still an entertaining read.
While it wasn’t a bad book by any means, I wasn’t able to fully live the book like I did with her other books. I felt distant, like I was watching it from afar. For me, Auden was a bland character, and while she showed some spark every now and then, I didn’t feel connected to her or her story. The whole thing with her step-mother’s baby and her father made me have an eye-rolling marathon and I just didn’t understand how the girls at the shop could go from hating Auden to being her best friends in a matter of only a couple of days. It wasn’t believable, and while I don’t mind that every now and then, added to the fact that I felt disconnected, that didn’t help.
Eli was a nice enough character, with his own background. I liked reading about him. He was intriguing, and for once it wasn’t because he was a bad boy. He really had a past, his own problems, his own stuff to overcome. The scenes with Auden were nice, and I felt like they had some sort of connection, even though that didn’t always come across.
The biggest let-down of this book was the ending. It was such an anti-climax, and I really dislike it. When I think of it now, several weeks later, I still feel like it should have had a different ending. Somewhere I understand why the ending was the way it was, but it just bothers me that it didn’t feel like a worthy ending, if you know what I mean.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, hence the three-star rating. After all the great books I’ve read by Sarah Dessen, this one was a bit less awesome, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of your time. It’s a perfect book to read during the summer, so if you like contemporaries, I’d recommend checking this one out.