Plot: 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. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect. (Summary from goodreads.com)
Cover: I really like the US cover depicted here, because it just goes so well with both the title and the content of the novel. Bikes do play an important role. The cover also gives a very summery feel to the book.
My opinion: Up until last week I was a Sarah Dessen virgin. I had never read a Sarah Dessen novel. So when I came across one in my local library, I decided to grab to see what the hype was about. And now I get the hype. I really do.
Along for the Ride is in a sense a coming-of-age novel although it only plays during one summer. Auden has spent most of her days buried in her schoolwork in order to get her parents' approval and has in fact never really been a child, but rather an adult. She is hopelessly socially flawed because she's never taken part in social life of important adolescent rituals. During this summer, however, Auden discovers new side to herself and who she can be and changes. I think it was really moving to see these changes in Auden, which was a very likable character, who I to some extent could relate to. Not all characters were nice and relatable though. All through the book I was less than mildly annoyed at Auden's father. A bigger egoist seems hard to come by! I was furious at the man at times.
Sarah Dessen is a really talented writer who cares about her characters and who makes the reader care too. This was my first Sarah Dessen, but it certainly won't be my last. I just wish that this book and others like it would have been there when I was a teenager myself.