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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.
One of the reasons I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction is because the characters tend to be quite flat. One of the reasons I make an exception for Sarah Dessen is because her characters are dimensional, realistic beings that I spend more time rooting for than rolling my eyes at. Along for the Ride is no exception: Auden is a smart girl who judges too quickly. Eli is a quiet, contemplative guy who doesn’t fall into the brooding boy cliché. The girls Auden meets while working at her stepmother’s boutique come across as vapid and shallow at first, but as Auden gets to know them, we learn that they’re smart, kind, and supportive.
Dessen has also done an excellent job of worldbuilding across the novels I’ve read by her. Colby is a touristy beach town, but by focusing on the “real” people who live there, Dessen creates a setting that is believable and interesting, not kitschy and formulaic.
Along for the Ride didn’t quite have the impact that Saint Anything had for me, but it was an enjoyable story with a variety of great relationships.
Score: (3 / 5)
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