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.Along for the Ride is a typical Sarah Dessen book. That is to say, it's brilliant. But not any more than her other previous books. As usual, her characters are wonderful and 3 dimensional. Sarah Dessen's characters are always the focus of the novel, and for good reason. Her characters are all very easy to relate to, and are all very real.
But really, everyone knows that. Everyone who's read Sarah Dessen, or even heard of her, knows her characters are awesome. The plot's usually quite slow. Maybe not slow, but definitely not fast and action packed. Each of her book has different themes and topics, although relationships are always there. In Along for the Ride, there's getting rid of stereotypes, biking, family relationships, love relationships, opening up, regaining a lost childhood, getting over losses. Probably more too, but these are the most prominent/ones that I can currently think of. :P
I especially like Auden's realization on stereotypes. That, just because a girl knows a lot about clothes and boys and the like, it doesn't mean she's a superficial or brainless. Auden's trip down to earth (so to speak, meaning she comes off her high horse after looking down at others for so long), is heartwarming. Along for the Ride is also quite smile-inducing. It's very sweet in the "Aaaw! I want to be there in that moment!" sort of way. These are the kind of characters you wish you had as best friends.
The romance was cute, but it wasn't really that much. Some books focus on the romance aspect. I found Along for the Ride focuses on all different types of relationships, especially in the family, so there was less time on the relationship between Auden and Eli. It's not a bad thing, but I'm a romance-gluten.
Also, is it insomnia when you don't sleep at night, but do in the morning? Doesn't it make you more of a night owl than an insomniac? Or a vampire. Maybe a vampire. XD
There weren't quite as many references to the other Sarah Dessen books as there were in previous ones. Or maybe I just missed them? I know one of her earlier books takes place in Colby, so there should be lots of references to that, as Along for the Ride setting's in Colby. I just haven't read that first one in a while, so don't really know. It was a bit disappointing, since honestly, I love the references. I think it's a genius way to tie all the stand alone novels together.
I'm wondering if Sarah Dessen will ever get out of this bubble. It's always the same type of book. I'm not complaining, oh, definitely not. But it would be interesting to see if her next book would actually be a paranormal romance. Or if a love interest is suddenly killed off. Just something that doesn't follow the typical pattern.
All in all, Along for the Ride does not disappoint Sarah Dessen fans. That is, those who haven't read it. I'm a tad on the late side, especially since I am a huge fan.