Published by Speak; June 16, 2009
Paperback, 383 pages
Borrowed from library
Up all night.
Nights have always been Auden's time, her chance to escape everything that's going on around her.
Then she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, and he becomes her nocturnal tour guide.
Now, with an endless supply of summer nights between them, almost anything can happen...
- Description from Goodreads.com
Sarah Dessen seems to have stumbled upon the magic formula. Because here is yet another story about a girl and a boy, family issues, and friendships. Same old, same old right? Wrong. Ms. Dessen knows her audience and whips up a new story different enough to mask the underlying similarities.
It's Auden's summer before college and her father and his new wife have invited her over to their home in Colby. Tired of her life with her mother, Auden agrees.
The story itself is pretty unspectacular. Just another tale of the budding romance between a boy and a girl. So what sets Along for the Ride apart is not the romance, but the interesting family dynamic. Auden's family is certainly complicated and I enjoyed reading about Auden's interactions with her family.
On the subject of family, my favourite character in this book by far was Heidi, Auden's stepmother. She was nurturing and hard-working and geez, if there's any female character in a Dessen you should idolize, it's Heidi. I absolutely loved her.
The rest of the characters did not shine for me as much. It almost felt like they were one and the same. And Eli especially. He came off a bit one-dimensional unfortunately. As for Auden, I think it's fair to say she isn't my favourite Dessen protagonist.
The story moved along rather slowly as well and a lot of bits and pieces didn't seem to be at all significant to the overall plot. In the end, it got very confusing and muddled. I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to zoom in on Eli and Auden or her family or Auden's character development.
Along for the Ride is nowhere near my favourite Dessen but the familiar writing makes me feel warm and cozy in a way that makes me want to keep on reading. As usual.