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Book Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

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The young adult title Along for the Ride follows Auden, an overachieving insomniac who doesn’t know how to let loose and have fun and is unable to connect with people. Even before her parents' divorce, she was considered to be the “little adult”; opposite of her brother Hollis who has been traveling in Europe for the last two years. Therefore, Auden has missed out on having a childhood and being a teenager in order to focus her energy on academics to please her demanding intellectual mother.

After graduation, Auden decides to spend the summer with her father, stepmother Heidi, and her new baby sister in the beach town of Colby. Auden packs books so she can study ahead for the upcoming semester of her freshman year in college. When she arrives in Colby, everything doesn’t go according to plan. Her father is immersed in writing his book, while Heidi adjusts to motherhood. On the first night, Auden gets involved with a boy who she finds out the next day is the ex-boyfriend of Maggie who works at Heidi’s boutique. Auden ends up working at the shop, and is introduced to a whole new world-a world of girls.

First, Auden explores Colby’s nightlife alone until she meets Eli, who is a fellow insomniac who is dealing with his past. Together they explore the town. Eli helps Auden to rediscover what she has missed out on during the past 18 years. Auden gains new friends even with Maggie. She learns that there is more to Maggie than being a girly girl. As Auden spends more time with Heidi, she sees that she is not what her mother perceived her to be-a waste of space.

Through Auden’s transformation, she learns how to connect with people and develop new friendships. She also learns not judge people at first glance like her mother.

Along for the Ride is a well written story that deals with personal transformation and relationships between family, friends, and romance. It is a must-read and page turner. Sarah Dessen brings all of the characters to life. Her descriptions make the reader feel like they are in the middle of the action with Auden. Sarah Dessen fans will notice a few familiar faces from earlier novels.

At first glance, some may find Auden to be boring. Auden focused her attention on academics rather than a social life. However, readers will be happy to see Auden finally develop as a person and rediscover the things that she has missed out on during her childhood and teen years. Auden also learns the dos and don’ts in of having a social life.

Readers will appreciate that each character carries substance and aren’t stereotypical. For instance, Heidi and Maggie may be girly girls on the outside but as Auden spends more time with them, she sees that is more to these women than their outer appearance. This is a prime example that shows that all girly girls aren’t airheads.

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