Review: Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Paperback, 424 Pages
Published June 2009

Summary: Auden has always felt like the odd one out. Since her parents' divorce she's shied away, studying lots and staying out of the party scene. But now Auden's realized there must be something more and, just like that, she changes everything. Moving to her dad's house opens up a whole new whole of beach parties, food fights - and simply having fun. As she gets to know herself - and a secretive boy with dark, brooding eyes - can Auden begin to let go and finally feel like she truly belongs?

I've always been a huge fan of Sarah Dessen -- I've read her books since middle school, and Along For The Ride is pretty much one of the only ones that I hadn't gotten around to, so I figured that there's no time like the present to get on that. As the summary explains, it's the summer before Auden is set to go to college, and she goes to stay with her dad and her stepmom. While she's there, she completely changes as a person (much to her mother's dismay). She makes friends, learns to be social, and starts to go out of her comfort zone and live like a normal teenager instead of as a serious adult. And of course she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac that shows her everything about Colby nightlife that an untrained eye might miss.

I really enjoyed this book. I saw a lot of myself in Auden -- focused on her studies, somewhat shy, not always willing to put herself out there...and I definitely related to the insomniac part. I'm more of a night person than anyone else I know. So I related to the feelings of isolation and loneliness that tend to surface when you're the only one awake while the rest of the world is asleep.

I really liked seeing the character change in Auden. She went from being a strict, school-oriented girl to someone learning to make the most of her last summer before college. She got a good group of friends, an adventurous nightlife, and even a possible romance. She was living the summer vacation of dreams, the summer vacation that all girls seem to dream about.

That is, until something went horribly wrong. Which always seems to happen in Sarah Dessen books. And before you know it, the life that Auden spent all of that time adjusting to settles back into her normal ways, and you're left wondering if she'll ever be able to make things right again.

Let me just say, Sarah Dessen's books are some of my favorites. The characters, the romance, the's all so great. Reading a Sarah Dessen book is like a breath of fresh air - much needed and sweet. I enjoyed everything about this story, from Auden's growth as a character to learning how to accept love and having the other characters learn how to handle the changes in their own lives. 

If you're looking for a good summer read to bring to the beach with you this summer, I definitely recommend Along for the Ride. Colby's beach town shows up in several of Dessen's stories, but I never get tired of the sweet summer romances that blossom there! If you need me, I'll be (im)patiently awaiting the release of her next book. 

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