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Along for the Ride

Book Review: Along for the Ride | Jest Kept Secret

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: Along for the Ride Author: Sarah Dessen Genre: YA Contemporary Content Warning: PG-13 for mild language and one implied sexual encounter Blurb 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. – Goodreads My Thoughts 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:   And don’t forget to save this book to your Pinterest reading list! Thanks!

Saint Anything

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: Saint Anything Author: Sarah Dessen Genre: YA Contemporary Content Warning: Mild language and underage drinking Blurb Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time. The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans. – Goodreads My Thoughts The only other book I have read by Sarah Dessen was Lock and Key, which I won in a giveaway hosted by YA Highway several years ago. I’ve never really felt drawn to contemporary fiction, but I enjoyed that one and always meant to read more of Dessen’s work. But Saint Anything just turned me into an official Sarah Dessen fangirl. I could not put it down. Reading Sydney’s voice was like reading my own, even though our experiences are vastly different. Her journey to find healing after someone else’s bad decisions is a realistic blend of frustrating moments and funny ones. The cast was spectacular, the writing was solid, and the story was so very good. Score:  

Lock and Key

Book Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Fact: I don’t read a lot of girl books. I don’t mind them–they’re just not what I usually read. So when I won a copy of Sarah Dessen’s Lock and Key from YA Highway, I was excited to try something new. Also a Fact: I am so so so so so so glad I read this book. Book cover synopsis:  Ruby can take care of herself. She’s used to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora.  Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and–for the first time–feeling as if she has a future.  Plus, there’s the adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate.  Everything should be perfect.  So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else. Lock and Key is beautifully written, and the characters are well rounded people with very realistic motives. While the big sources of conflict in the book may be things that a limited number of people can relate to, the driving themes of friendship, love, and perseverance are poignant and relevant to everyone. And Ruby–oh, Ruby!–her voice was so honest and alive that I couldn’t help but love her. I will definitely be reading more Sarah Dessen in the future.  

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