Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Auden has always been dedicated to school work, hoping that achieving in the academic world her parents work in will gain her attention and recognition from them.  She aslo doesn’t sleep any more, which started when she had to listen to her parents night-time arguments before they divorced.  Now Auden has just graduated from high school and faces a summer of work preparing for college.  To get away from her overbearing mother, she decides to go to stay with her father, his new wife and their new baby at the beach.  Prepared to spend the summer alone with her books, Auden is surprised when she finds herself getting drawn more and more into the lives of the people she is staying with.  She even volunteers to do the book at her stepmother’s boutique where she is surrounded by the pink of girly things for the first time.  As she becomes more involved with her family, she is also drawn into the lives of the local teens.  She and a brooding ex-biker named Eli find that neither of them sleep at night so a connection is made.  Will Auden have to change to fit into this new place or perhaps is there a hidden Auden that has always been there?

This book is magic.  The writing is done with an assurance and style that offer insight to the characters and important statements about being female in our culture without ever being overbearing about it.  The lightness of the writing works well with the deeper truths of the novel: loneliness, self-perception, and self-awareness.  All are beautifully woven into the book.

Dessen has an ear for dialogue so that every phrase rings true, effortlessly changing between characters.  She also has created a cast of characters who are individuals, unique and all intriguing right down to the parents and other adults.  I see novels in each of the teens, they are so well drawn and interesting in their own right.  Each adult character carries their own youth with them, just as we all do, offering them a depth and level of understanding unusual in teen novels.

I was sincerely amazed by this novel.  It was an interesting, fluffy, deep, fast read that I could not put down.  Expect this to be a huge hit of the summer.  It has summer beach read written all over it, but even better it has a lot of brain behind it too.  Appropriate for ages 13-16.

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