Just a few minutes ago, I finished reading Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen. It is my fourth book by this author, and like the others, I enjoyed it. On Goodreads I rated it a 4 out of 5 stars, however, it felt more like a 3 and a half stars to me.
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. (Goodreads.com)
There's something about Sarah Dessen's books that are just so appealing, and Along For The Ride was no exception. Like a lot of her books, there's plenty of your typical, fluffy teenager stuff - falling in love, doing crazy things with your friends, etc. But as always, there's a more serious side to her novels, and in Along For The Ride it's Auden's parents' divorce, which she never really got over.
The book itself was 399 pages, which I read through pretty quickly, but it was a bit boring at times. For the most part, though, it was a quick, easy read. I really liked Auden's character and could relate to her quite well. To be honest, a lot of the time, I thought I was reading about myself! The character development she goes through in this book is quite phenomenal as well. In the beginning, Auden is very naive and antisocial, but by the end of the book her character has blossomed. She becomes more open, girly, confident in herself, and willing to stand up to others.
The other characters were interesting as well. Heidi's character was very likable and well-written. Sarah Dessen makes you feel sympathetic towards her, but she has also written a character who is very capable, can take care of herself, and full of compassion. Maggie's character was enjoyable as well, and as Auden grew to like her, so did I. Auden's parents are a bit more difficult. Her mother's superiority was mildly irritating at the best of times, and I was often waiting for Auden to stand up for herself, which she didn't really do. Her father is lazy, selfish and manipulating, probably my most disliked character in the book. However, both of them were redeemed slightly in the end. Heidi was still my favourite, and the only one who ever showed any true affection towards Auden.
I had a few little issues with the book, which is why I'm stuck on a 3 and a half star rating. The first being that one of the main plot points in the beginning of the book is Auden's insomnia, but it really didn't genuine to me. Insomnia is when a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep on a regular basis. However, Auden states that she used to purposefully keep herself awake in order to keep her parents from fighting. She's also always drinking coffee, often two or three of them late at night. She just didn't seem like an insomniac. She just seemed like some one who drank a lot of caffeine, was used to staying up and sleeping in late.
We are also never given a reason as to why Eli can't sleep. I'm going to assume it has something to do with Abe and / or nightmares, but it was never really clarified. In fact, we never really learn that much about Eli. He always seems to show up at the most convenient times. For a character that's supposed to be the main love interest, he really isn't in the book that much. Or maybe I just want more of him? :P Also, he seems to get over Abe's death without an explanation. I'm assuming that Auden is helping him heal, but it's like one day he's depressed and then the next, he's fine and competing at bike competitions again. Convenient.
As for the writing itself, it was typical Sarah Dessen. It's easy to read and understand, with a lot of relatable quotes and witty lines. It balances itself out with the perfect combination of humour and seriousness. However, in this book, I found that we were too often stuck off in Auden's own little world. Time would pass, things would happen, and then we would only be told about them as an afterthought. Too many plot points seemed to have just been thrown in haphazardly, and I found myself wondering when something had happened and wishing I had gotten more details in the scenes.
Overall, however, the book was enjoyable and entertaining. As a fan of Sarah Dessen, I don't think it was her best work, but I would still recommend it. Her books are always a good way to pass the time, and I will definitely continue to read more of them, so look forward to more reviews on her novels!
On a different note, I know some people were bothered by the cover changes of all of Sarah Dessen's books. Comment down below your thoughts! I bought the new cover of Along For The Ride because it was on sale, but I have two of her other books with the older covers. It doesn't bother me too much, because the covers are still similar looking. But what do you guys think? Which cover of Along For The Ride do you prefer?
“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 turn on or off. If you were in, you were in. Out, you were out.”
“Who says there has to be a point?" He asked. "Or a reason. Maybe it's just something you have to do."
And while they were proud of me, my accomplishments never seemed to get me what I really wanted. I was such a smart kid, I should have figured out that the only way to get my parent's attention was to disappoint them or fail. But by the time I finally realized that, succeeding was already a habit too ingrained to break.
Goodbye for now,