by Sarah Dessen
Four books in two days..whew, call me slacker. Today is all homework after this review.
Well, this is the last of my recently-bought books, but there are still tons of library books just lying around in my room. My brother steps on them all the time.
Along for the Ride is a Dessen novel, and I say this because Dessen's novels usually have some kind of special formula that makes it unique but similar at the same time. Auden is a total nerd and social failure, getting stood up by Jason (remember him? Mr. Perfect boyfriend from Truth) at prom, getting into one of the best universities, and lacking a childhood. After her parents divorced, she developed insomnia (inability to sleep), and spend her nights driving around, or at the 24/7 diner. Deciding she needed some sort of change in scenery, she visits her newly married father and newly born step (or half?) sister for the summer.
When she arrives at Colby (the same place where Keeping the Moon was set, with the Last Chance Diner), she finds she actually likes her stepmom, Heidi, while she watches her father shut himself in his office, working, letting Heidi take complete care of the new baby. Heidi is constantly exhausted, and Auden's father's lack of support is evident, and leads to trouble. Meanwhile, Auden, in her night-time wanderings, meets Eli, a boy who is haunted by a tragic accident. They spend their nights together, on a "quest" to redeem Auden's childhood, doing anything from bowling and visitng clubs, to food fights. Auden also takes up a job at Heidi's boutique, where she meets outgoing girls, and eventually becomes their friend. Socially awkward, she initially doesn't want the company, but learns to appreciate friendship and the codependence. It's also a novel about second chances.
Many of Dessen's books revolve around the romance, but the narrator usually has her issues and stuff. This book is no different, but I felt it revolved more around Auden, and how she grows as a person ("blossomed", as her wildchild brother calls it) and how she learns to make friends and deal with a demanding mother. She learns to like Heidi, deal with how her father behaves, and of course, there's her and Eli. I wished there was more scenes with her and Eli, and their adventures, but instead, I think the novel focused more on Auden's growth as a person.
Anyways, I loved the book. I'm not sure if it's because I'm way biased towards Sarah Dessen, or because the book is actually 'mine', but I enjoyed it immensly, staying up really late to finish it. I know, I spent my Saturday reading... I loved Auden, how she changes, how she acts, and how she dealt with her struggles. I loved Eli, who has to overcome an accident in his past, and has quit biking because of it. I even grew to love Auden's new friends, who are way more than meets the eye. Heidi was a great character and very realistic, being a new mom with little support, I felt bad for her. I didn't like her dad (at all), who was beyond selfish, and always had is his way, but I think in every book, there has to be some kind of character you dislike.
Apart from wanting more Eli/Auden scenes, I really liked their relationship, both with their own issues, and wandering the streets till 5 in the morning. It was a great idea. Auden's insistence that the night-time changed how people acted was nice.
I thought the last part of the novel may have been similar to other of Dessen's books, but it's okay, because I still adored it. I have nothing bad to say, except I wished it was a bit more unique.
9.2/10- because I loved the concept, the characters (Auden especially), and how the author tied in the setting of Colby from her previous books (we see characters from that book too). Auden's situation was realistic, and I loved watching her navigate though newly-formed friendships, determined not to quit, and learning life lessons from her friends. Excellent novel, and I would recommend to anyone, especially as a "summer read".
Wow, I've been reading a bunch of great novels recently. All with like 9s. I gave this 9.2, because I liked it more than Vampire Academy, but not as much as Truth about Forever. Maybe I should be a bit less generous..but it seems that I'm so spoiled with great books. Very content yesterday and the day before, just curling up and reading (my bro doesn't believe how people can curl up and read, but I actually do). Thanks for reading, please comment!
8/14 EDIT: I'm changing this rating to 9.3 (yes, I can do that! I make up my own rules!) because since I own both the Sarah Dessen books mentioned (AftR and TtAF) I reread them, and I find I somehow enjoyed Auden's story more than Macy this time around!