“People don't change. If anything, you get more set in your ways as you get older, not less”
- Sarah Dessen, Along For The Ride
Synopsis : 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.
Going into Along for the Ride I was excited to read another Dessen novel that takes place in Colby, NC. The same small beach side town town as Keeping The Moon.
Growing up in the world of academia Auden West is book smart, motivated , intelligent; but more importantly she is alone and she likes it that way. . . or so she thinks.The summer before college Auden takes her first big risk and spends the summer with her dad and new stepmother in Colby, NC in search of The Best of Times, but she finds so much more.
Dessen is the queen of Manic Pixie dream guys romance, but the romance isn't the main story happening in Colby, NC. What really stuck out for me in Along For The Ride were the friendships, families and characters.
I found Auden was a sympathetic character but she isn't the girl next door. I enjoyed the way she progressed through the novel, she is the kind of character you want the best for but sometimes it's really hard to like her. Her relationship with a broken bike-loving boy was sweet but didn't really stand out to me.
What I did love was the secondary characters and all the little quirks they have. Even though there were so many side characters they were developed so well by the end of the book I felt like I knew what they would say and do before they would do it.
What is great about this novel is that it is the least "teen issued" focused Dessen novel I've read so far. Instead we get a glimpse into a the hardships of marriage, motherhood, divorce and death. Adults, who have a tendency to get shafted in YA are allowed to have personalities and story arcs in this novel
My only issue with this book was towards the end the retrospective story telling was in overdrive sometimes it was retrospective inside retrospective for tiny little events. And all of the characters got a little too prophetic. It seemed like every other paragraph there would be a stunning realization-metaphor-monologue.
While this book is an amazing ride, the ending has few bumps and goes a little off road before coming home. Along For The Ride is truly a coming of age contemporary with heartfelt lessons about family, tragedy and friendship that will really stick with you.
Connections (via Wikipedia because they are stealthy !)
- Two of Heidi's friends are Isabel and Morgan from the book Keeping the Moon
- At the Last Chance Cafe, Auden gives her order to Colie from Keeping the moon
- The boy that stood Auden up at the prom was Jason Talbot from The Truth About Forever who also appears in What Happened to Goodbye
- I also think big sister Caroline from The Truth About Forever is who the stepmom wants to name Thisbe after.