November 16, 2010

Review - Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (audiobook)

Last week was contemporary/realistic YA fiction week in my Materials for Youth class - my favorite week so far! For my first book of the week, I chose a Sarah Dessen novel because people are always raving about how great her books are. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and I certainly wasn't disappointed! 

Seventeen-year-old Auden has been an insomniac ever since her parents began fighting. Her sleep problems have continued even after their divorce. Auden is highly-motivated, a trait she gets from her scholarly parents. The summer before she leaves for college, Auden goes to a small beach-resort town to stay with her father, her new stepmother, and a newborn baby who just won't stop crying. Auden's father and stepmother fight a lot, but she tries to stay out of it most of the time. Auden intends to spend much of the summer preparing for her college courses, but her plans quickly change when she befriends a group of carefree local teens who bring her out of her shell. One boy in particular, Eli, shares her nocturnal habits, and together they embark on a quest to help Auden experience everything she's missed out on by being so focused on achievement. Eli has been grieving the loss of a friend, but finds that he can open up to Auden. For awhile, everything seems to be going great, but when her father and stepmother's fighting worsens, Auden's memories of her parents' divorce resurface and really shake her up. 

Along for the Ride was my first Sarah Dessen novel, and I'll definitely be reading more of her work! The characters felt very real, and I identified with Auden because she reminded me of myself as a teen. (Plus, Eli is exactly the type of guy I would have had a crush on in high school. Swoon!) I think a lot of readers can probably relate to the relationship between Auden and her parents, too. At the beginning of the novel, Auden's parents seem to be more concerned with her academic development than her emotional development. She missed out on a social life in high school because she was so busy studying. I loved watching Auden grow over the course of the summer as she learned more about herself and opened up to new possibilities. The audiobook narrator captured Auden's voice well. It took a long time to listen to (the unabridged version has 11 CDs), but I kept listening because it was such a great story and I cared about the characters. 

P.S. The book cover is adorable, but I don't think the models match the descriptions of Eli and Auden very well. Does anyone else get bothered by this on book covers, or is it just me being too picky? :)


Bookwoman said...

I've read this book and one other by Sarah Dessen (Just Listen). I think she is an excellent writer. I plan to read more of her works. She is one writer I recommend to my teen patrons.

Jessica Love said...

Yay! I love Sarah Deseen! :-) This Lullaby is my favorite, you should check that one out next.

Jennie said...

Sarah Desson is awesome!

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