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Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

A l o n g  f o r  t h e  R i d e by Sarah Dessen
Release Date: 6/11/09 (Hardcover)
Read & Blogged About: Lock and Key 
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Pages: 383
Source: School Library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kindle
Word Blurb: Sweet, heartfelt, and genuine!

Synopsis- "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»»
Quick Thinking: Heartfelt flashes to mind when I think Along for the Ride. I've come to love Sarah Dessen's genuine, fleshed out people creations, her heartwarming stories of girls who work toward self-discovery and their trips into love, and the detailed, yet easy writing style that keeps me actively reading the entire time! I can always expect to have my emotions touched by one of her stories, and Along for the Ride is definitely no exception. Take the trip to Colby with main character, Auden, who realizes the true meaning of family and friendship, love and connection, and learns that first impressions might not always be correct. Sometimes there's more to a person than what's on the surface.

My Thoughts In-Depth: *Note: May not be spoiler-free.*  I loved this book, plain and simple. It was everything I needed at the moment...

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty blue and in the mood for some romance-filled, emotional novel. And I picked well. As a child of divorce, I related so well with the main character, Auden. Auden's parents are semi-selfish, ambitious, driven, and who sometimes completely ignore their daughter. Taking her for granted, caring little of what she does on a day-to-day. It was pretty sad. Now, I'm not saying my parents were exactly like that, but I often felt as Auden did: alone and so sure that I had to become an adult to please my parents and keep their attention on me. So, to say that I could truly empathize with this girl is probably the biggest understatement of the year. And seeing how Auden turned out because of all the decisions she felt she had to make, made me shutter... Only because for awhile I saw that person in myself a time or two or a hundred. She was so stiff and stern and polite. As smooth and as blank as an empty canvas. And seeing her evolve, and shift into the person she was meant to be was moving and hilarious at the same time. To say that she was probably one of the most clueless teens I've ever encountered is a huge truth. It was fun reading as she learned the ways of an adolescent: the gossip, the confrontations, the shopping, the hanging out, boys 101. Extremely funny.

Eli, Auden's love interest, was another great character! It's always heartwarming to me, when I get the chance to read about characters that touch each others lives in the subtlest yet most profound of ways. Like Auden, Eli was lost, wandering around, not knowing how to move on with his life particularly after the death of his best friend. Blame, guilt, self-doubt are all key emotions in not only Eli but the book as a whole. And watching the other characters overcome that was worthwhile! 

The story itself is rich with comedy and meaning. I don't think there was ever point in my reading experience of this book that I wasn't engaged in the story, totally engrossed. Even though it's merely a story of one girl-nothing out of the ordinary about that-it felt significant somehow. Like whatever message Dessen wanted to send out with this book was essential to my growth as a person. Vital. I didn't want to stop reading until I fully absorbed what this book was trying to say. Forgiveness was big and evident, at least for me, in the novel. I felt like the cast had to forgive not only each other but themselves. Auden for trying to please her parents instead of staying true to who she was. Eli for an accident he thinks is his fault and wasting all that time blaming himself for it. Auden's father for being selfish and thoughtless. Heidi, Auden's stepmother, for allowing her husband to be careless and less than supportive. The list goes on... and I picked up that forgiving yourself could be the very thing you need to get going in life. Don't you just love when books teach you things like that?

Plus, I mentioned in my Quick Thinking section that Auden realizes there's more to a person than what's visible on the surface, and Maggie, another amazing character in the novel, attests to that. Reading as Auden instantly placed Maggie into a slot, automatically judging her without knowing her, and as Maggie continually proves to be much more than meets the eye, that age-old cliché 'Never judge a book by it's cover' quickly comes to mind as well as any other suitable trite proverbs you can whip up. And in reading with that concept in my mind, I think I'm going to take that into consideration the next time I meet someone, especially so that I don't sound stupid when they prove me wrong for judging based on a first impression.

The ending was definitely a slam-dunk! Big time! It's been awhile since I've been utterly satisfied by the way a novel closes, especially one I turn up loving. The characters were happy when I turned the last page, and that's all I really needed. I'm happy to say that Along for the Ride was a wonderful read! I can't wait to pick up many more Sarah Dessen novels. I'm now, officially, a fan. :)

Favorite Scenes/Quotes:
"I looked up at him, then smiled. 'Well, I have to say, your mom's amazing. But I don't agree with that.'
'She is amazing,' he said. 'And I don't either.' Then he leaned down, kissing me, and I slid my arms around his neck, pulling him a little closer. I could have stood there all night, good or no good...'" (224)

"...I felt [Eli's] lips brush the top of my head, gently...
A feeling, thick and heavy, creeping over me. It had been a long time since I'd done this that for a moment a part of me was scared, wanting to fight it off, stay vigilant. But instead, just before it took me, I rolled over, pressing myself closer against him. I felt his hand rise to my head and then, I was gone...
When I woke up the next morning, it was seven thirty and Eli was still sleeping. His arm was around my waist, his chest moving slowly up, down, up, down, beneath my cheek. I closed me eyes again..." (272)

"I bent down, kissing his forehead, and he looked up at me and smiled. Then I slid in opposite him as the waitress approached, filling the mug beside me. As I picked it up, it was warm in my hands, and I felt his hand move onto my knee. Morning would come before we knew it..." (383)

*contented sigh* Wonderful.

Anyway, thanks for reading!


the Vintage Bookworm said...

Absolutely wonderful review! :) When I read this book I fell in LOVE with it! Not only does it have a GORGEOUS cover, but the writing and the storyline and the characters are just amazing.
I have this on my list for this weekend's Book Blogger Hop question. :)
I'm really glad you liked it.

A. Knight said...

Thank you so much~

I was very happy when I finished it, like completely and totally. It's been awhile since I've felt sated by a read. Thanks for stopping by, it's always nice to see your comments around my blog! :DD