I recently read Sarah Dessen’s newest book, Along For the Ride. I must include the disclaimer that I have never read any of Dessen’s books before and had only a preconceived notion (based on the Mandy Moore movie How to Deal) that they were dramatic, overly angsty sobfests about love, loss and growing up. After reading that I will note that most of that is true. But, surprisingly, in a good way.
Along For the Ride tells the story of serious scholar Auden who has spent her entire childhood being a responsible grown up because of her parent’s divorce and her immature older brother’s escape to Europe. The book chronicles her summer before she heads off to college, which finds her unexpectantly, staying with her father, his new wife, and their baby in a beachside town. Although at times cliche, I enjoyed being “along for the ride” as Auden got to experience milestones of childhood (learning to ride a bike, staying out past curfew, attending prom, falling in love). I enjoyed the interaction between Auden and Eli and the balance of their sweet love story It was a nice touch that he had emotional baggage, as well as Auden, and that he needed her as much as she needed him. Their relationship was all about the transformative healing powering of love. However, I felt the most touching relationship in the book was that of Auden and Maggie, her first real friend. The majority of the times I found myself frustrated with Auden as a character, it was because she really seemed to lack basic social skills and flipped out about casually interacting with Maggie and her friends. Despite this irritant, it made it all the most rewarding when Auden finally figured it all out and found herself a part of the girl group.
If you are looking for a light fluffy quick read (despite it’s length) read that reminds you of summer, the beach, and first love, you will enjoy Along For the Ride.