Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Pub. Date: June 2009
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Genre: Realistic fiction
Age Range: Young Adult
Synopsis/Teaser: Auden West has been a dedicated academic since she started school and has stayed up at night since her parents’ divorce several years previously. When she visits her dad, stepmother and half-sister in the small town of Colby over the summer, Auden learns that she missed many important landmarks during her childhood. As she explores the nighttime world of Colby with fellow insomniac Eli, she embarks on a long, hard, rewarding journey of making up for lost years, growing romance and friendship, and self-discovery.
Review: Having only read one book of Sarah Dessen’s previously (Just Listen), I can’t really say how Along for the Ride compares to her other works. However, I was impressed with Just Listen, so I went into Along for the Ride expecting the very best. I wasn’t disappointed.
The characters in Along for the Ride are complex and quite believable, as are the situations they encounter. This takes the genre of realistic fiction to the next level: from “something that could happen” to “something that is happening (if just in the readers’ heads).” Auden’s hopes, frustrations, and inner emotions are demonstrated subtly but effectively throughout the narrative.
Auden’s parents’ insensitivity made me wince occasionally, likewise with Auden’s own cluelessness toward her own feelings. I don’t like the book’s cover image: Auden would never wear the polka-dotty pink dress she’s pictured in.
Overall, Along for the Ride is a rich and enjoyable work of teen fiction that readers will savor. Dessen has done it again, creating a many-layered tale, compatible with the target audience, with a touching romance at its core.
Recommended For: Any teenagers looking for a good read (this is an excellent summer book). This is also a great choice for book discussion, whether formal or casual.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 possible stars