Goodreads 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.
Along for the Ride is my third Sarah Dessen book. I actually started reading it at the end of last summer, but I only got to read about one or two chapters before I had to give it back to the library and go off to school. I didn’t think I would bother to pick it back up again, but it felt weird to leave a book unfinished when I had no real reason to do so. And I’m glad I finished it this time. I originally gave it a 3/5, but after writing half of this review I realized I had to go back and change it to a 4/5. I even went back onto Goodreads and changed my rating. (Don’t forget: spoilers ahead.)
Auden was a really great character. I loved watching her fairly judgmental opinions change over the novel. She instantly disliked Heidi, Maggie, and the other girls because of the way they looked and the things they talked about, and by the end of the novel, Maggie was her best friend. What I especially appreciated about this was the way that her opinions changed without changing her personality, because that would not have been believable. I think this is pretty clearly represented in the fact that she was in a black dress at the end. She was more willing to be social, and she wasn’t so quick to judge, but she was still Auden. She still liked school, and she still didn’t like pink. The difference was the fact that she didn’t dislike people who liked pink anymore. She was going to the “prom” in her own unique way, in a black dress.
This book’s downfall was, like so many YA books, the fact that it was fairly predictable. The girl ends up with the guy, of course. (Can you tell I’m sick of romance stories?) Even then, though, the predictability made sense. There was a reason Eli was suddenly able to open up to someone, and it wasn’t because she was just that pretty, or he just had a feeling about her, or anything stupid like that. He had a concrete reason, which was the fact that she spoke to him as though he hadn’t been through an intense tragedy recently, because she had no idea that he had, and he appreciated that. She helped him to feel normal again, and it makes sense.
Maybe my favorite part about this book is the fact that most people probably judge it by its pink and flirty cover, just like Auden judges Maggie and the others, but Along for the Ride actually has a lot of depth to it.