Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride is without a doubt my favorite Sarah Dessen book yet.  The main character, Auden, is one that I easily relate to.  Maybe it’s her sometimes lack of social skills or her dedication to academic achievements- either way, I felt like she was me at times.

Auden has never really seen anything wrong with the fact that she was an adult without ever experiencing a true childhood.  Her parents, both academics, have always treated her like an adult.  She never played kickball, ran around the neighborhood, or even rode a bike.  Sure, she had a few friends from her private school, but she mostly spent all of her time studying. What she doesn’t realize is that she has spent her whole life trying to prove something to her parents.

But when her parents divorce and her dad remarries, she begins to think maybe everything she did wasn’t enough. She stopped sleeping when her Dad moved out, and spends her insomniac nights at a local diner.  When her stepmother has a baby, Auden suddenly decides to throw away her summer plans and go stay with her father, stepmother, and new sister. Spending the summer in a small beach town, she suddenly has the opportunity to relive everything she never got to experience during her childhood- most importantly friendship and love. And when she realizes that she may only be a shell of what her parents want and nothing like what she, Auden wants, she learns that it’s never too late to grow up and be who you want to be.

This is the perfect book to read on a warm summer day.  Dessen has crafted a gorgeous story, with characters who are flawed like normal human beings.  Yet despite their flaws, they are all likeable.  I don’t know how she does it, but Dessen gets better and better with each book she writes!

Highly recommended for middle school and high school libraries.

(And at certain points in the story, you can see the love of a new mother beaming through the story, like a flashlight in a darkened room.  It’s an amazing testament to the love Sarah Dessen has for her young daughter.  I can’t help but wonder what it will be like for her daughter to someday read this book, thinking all the time that her mother had to have been using her own experiences as a new mother.  It’s gorgeous and will be a wonderful gift someday.)