Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

in a sentence or so: Auden has filled her life with academics and studying at the expense of a social life and normal teenage experiences. the summer before heading to college, she takes a chance and decides to live with her dad, stepmom, and new baby sister for the summer where she discovers friends, boys, and volumes more about herself and her complicated family.

Auden spent many nights trying to avoid listening to her parents fighting pre-divorce and became a bit of an insomniac. staying up until 6 am every night (day?) isn't the only thing that makes Auden different from other teens her age. she went to a pretty academically aggressive high school and spent all of her free time studying...so she doesn't necessarily have 'friends' to call her own. she's never had a boyfriend, unless you count the boy who rivaled her for valedictorian and then ditched her right before prom (i don't).  she understands that there is a certain intellectual divide in people and she is on the upper crust, along with her mom and dad, while the superficial crowd contains people like her step-mom Heidi and new newfound coworkers.

the thing is, Auden kinda finds herself liking her step-mom. and she finds herself liking the girls at work. and she even finds herself another insomniac with a haunting past. Auden and Eli start a nightly routine of late night pie, shopping, laundry, and conversation that opens Auden up in a way she doesn't expect...and sets her up for situation she doesn't know how to handle.

i loved that Auden was unintentionally supercilious. i mean, we know that she's being snooty and pretentious, but she genuinely has no idea. i mean, she knows she's smart and cannot figure out why anyone would choose to surround themselves in hot pink and orange all day. so she knows she's judging them, but feels totally justified in that. she's judging others based on what she was taught by her mother and father, yet she slowly comes around to realizing that others can be great just the way they are. which, of course, includes herself.

to prevent myself from spinning out in a blaze of fangirl glory, allow me to break down for you why it is i adore Sarah Dessen books so much. here are my top five reasons i heart Sarah Dessen's books.
1. the talk. Sarah knows how teenagers talk. it's not over the top, it's not highly intellectual, it's just real. this makes her books absolutely authentic and believable.
2. the boys. she gets how teenage boys think and act too. and, undoubtedly, there is a goofy guy to fall in love with. in Auden's case, she falls for the broody loner Eli. i, however, was diggin' the pair of goofballs - Adam and Wallace.
3. the girl talk. yes, this is different from just 'the talk' of teens. girls have a way of talking when they are amongst themselves that is unique and hard to explain. unless you're Sarah Dessen, obviously. in this book specifically, when the girls are in the store or after they explain to Auden the dangers of spending time with Eli, Dessen hits girl talk on the nose.
4. the family. Auden's family is complicated. up until this point, she's been burying that complication and it's manifesting itself in her sleeplessness. Dessen gets that families aren't easy, that they bring drama, and that they bring heartache. she also gets that families are vital to who we are and where we're going, and that being a part of them shapes us in ways we never fully realize.
5. the romance. Dessen take her time building the romance. there is always a connection and relationship first BEFORE the falling in love starts to take place. it's never instantaneous or inexplicable. i get why Auden and Eli connected with each other. and i truly appreciate that Dessen took the time to establish them and their characters so that their relationship made sense.

if you like well developed characters, a town you can totally visualize, complicated-yet-loving families, flawed-yet-redeeming heroines, and poignant and well-placed reflections on life lessons, Sarah Dessen is the author for you.

fave quote: "You couldn't just pick and choose at will when someone depended on you, or loved you. It wasn't like a light switch, easy to shut on or off.  If you were in, you were in. Out, you were out. To me, it didn't seem complicated at all. In fact, it was the simplest thing in the world." (pg 367)

fix er up: the cover. seriously, Auden would never wear pink by choice and the headless bodies are just ughhh.

title: Along for the Ride
author: Sarah Dessen
genre: coming of age, contemporary
publisher: Viking (imprint of Penguin Publishing)
buy this book: Amazon

[ftc notice: i received a copy of this book from my local library. yay libraries! so, you know, no compensation etc.]

[other notice: i reviewed this book as part of Sarah Dessen Week hosted by The Reading Housewives of Indiana and YA Bibliophile!]

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

4 comments:

  1. I want to say thanks so much for guest reviewing on my blog as well! :) And I agree about the pink :)

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  2. but that's exactly she's wearing pink in the cover, bcus its something she will never do. The WHOLE book is about embracing things she missed out on & doing things she never did...

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  3. This sounds like a book my daughter and countless others in their teens would enjoy! Thanks for the interesting review.

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  4. interesting idea, racquel...thanks!

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