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Along for the Ride Paperback – April 5, 2011

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Along for the Ride + Just Listen + The Truth About Forever
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; English Language edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142415561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142415566
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Dessen has built a well-deserved reputation for delicately depicting teen girls in turmoil. Her latest title showcases a socially awkward young woman who seeks solace in the comforting rigidity of academic success. Auden is about to start college in the fall, and decides to escape her control-freak professor mom to spend the summer with her novelist father, his new young wife, and their brand-new baby daughter, Thisbe. Over the course of the summer, Auden tackles many new projects: learning to ride a bike, making real connections with peers, facing the emotional fallout of her parents’ divorce, distancing herself from her mother, and falling in love with Eli, a fellow insomniac bicyclist recovering from his own traumas. The cover may mislead readers, as despite the body language of the girl in pink and the hunky blue-jeaned boy balanced on a bike, this is no slight romance: there’s real substance here. Dessen’s many fans will not be deterred by the length or that cover; they expect nuanced, subtle writing, and they won’t be disappointed. Grades 9-12. --Debbie Carton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Beautifully captures that sense of summer as a golden threshold between past regrets and future unknowns." -The Washington Post

More About the Author

I've been writing, in one way or another, for as long as I can remember. I was always a big reader, mostly because my parents were. I used to get frustrated with my mom because she bought me books for Christmas when what I really wanted were the gifts my friends got, things like sweaters and jewelry. But I did love to read. When I was eight or nine my parents gave me an old manual typewriter and a little desk in the corner of our den, and I'd sit there and type up my stories. I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, "She has such a wild imagination," which usually meant "I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth." I have a tendency to embellish: I think it's just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it's hard not to do it all the time."The books I read when I was teenager, the good ones anyway, have stuck more in my mind than anything since. I still love books, but while I couldn't tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry's A Summer to Die or Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them: I think it's the best thing to which any writer can aspire. "As far as my other life, my non-writing life, I live in the country with my husband, some lizards, and two dogs who are completely spoiled and rule me completely. I like to work in my garden---although I have not yet perfected the art of keeping everything alive----and, in my weaker moments, shop. I have a bit of an addiction to the Gap clearance rack, to be honest. I have this strange need to buy huge quantities of black pants. How many pairs of black pants does one person need? (Obviously for me, the answer is 11 and counting. But I digress.) What else can I tell you? I love Starbucks mochas but they make me way hyper. I subscribe to too many magazines. I make a mean bean salad. I could go on, but the truth is, my books are much more exciting than I am, and that's a good thing. It's always more fun to make stuff up anyway."

Customer Reviews

It was such a good book, and it kept your reading all the way until the end.
Kayla Hauser
The story was great, I LOVED all the characters and they were all very well developed whether it was a character I liked or not.
It's the perfect young adult book - one that presents a problem and finds ways to solve it.
Lauren G

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Lauren G VINE VOICE on June 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I must admit, I did everything I could before writing this review. I checked my e-mail at least 10 times, I watched an old episode of Friends, I snacked on sunflower seeds. It's not that I didn't want to write the review because I didn't like the book, it's quite the opposite. I knew that once I wrote the review, I would be done, moving onto another book. The truth of the matter was, I didn't want to be done with Dessen's book.

Along for the Ride is about 18 year old Auden, a remarkably smart girl who's parents divorced when she was younger after years of bickering. She became an insomniac, avoiding her problems by staying awake, studying at a nearby cafe. Meanwhile, being raised by two academic parents, Auden organized her life around school - she could answer any educational question, yet barely had any friends and missed out on every important childhood landmark (prom, bowling, learning to ride a bike..) After a strangely inspirational message from her older brother Hollis, Auden decides to spend the summer before her freshman year of college in Colby with her father, his new extremely cheerful wife, and their even newer baby, Thisbe. There, Auden discovers something about herself through interactions with Heidi, her stepmother; babysitting Thisbe; working at a clothing store with girls her age; and, above all, meeting the mysterious Eli who helps her rebuild her past.

The story talks about love, redemption, and second chances. It's about how it's never too late to rediscover yourself and grab hold of your present.

I really loved Along for the Ride. The characters were interesting, deep, and always surprising. Yes, as many young adult books, the plot was a bit predictable, but that didn't matter.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Runa VINE VOICE on July 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really want to gush about how awesome this book is, but sadly, I don't think I can. I wanted to like it, I really really wanted to like it, and as a book, it was pretty decent, but I'm getting so sick of the standard Dessen formula. It was cute the first time. And maybe the second. But by now, it's gone way too far. It's always the same: Annoying, messed up family situation, girl doesn't know how to deal with it, girl meets boy, boy fixes everything in girl's hypothetical world, and then there's always that really annoying cringey moment when you just know that Dessengirl and Dessenboy are going to have a falling out, but you also know that they'll be back together by the end. The story moves along quickly, which is what I've always liked about Dessen, but I'm reading the same story over and over and over again. I'd like some change! I love all her characters, but why is it always the same outline? Character-wise, Auden's a sweetheart, and I definitely sympathize with her. Eli is not as well developed as the other Dessenboys, but he's still someone you can get to like. The family situation is aggravating, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one really wanting to pummel Auden's dad with a baseball bat (and what happened to that, anyways? Dropped storyline, much?). I'm glad Jake wasn't used as the character to come between Eli and Auden, as that would have made me flip out even more. I don't know, I really want to be enthusiastic and tell you to buy the book and read it and love it, but it's all the same. Pick up any Dessen novel (and do pick one up, they're fantastic and should be read by every teenage girl out there) and you'll get the same story with minor changes. I want some more originality. I know she can do it, she's done it before, why the rut? She's such a fantastic writer, and I want to see more of her writing, but I'd like a new story next time, okay?

Rating: 3/5
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By I. B. Kramer on June 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
With the exception of "Dreamland," the plots of Sarah Dessen's books are as alike as slice and bake cookies--girl with relationship hang-ups forged by family dysfunction meets boy and makes new friends who teach her life lessons. Over the course of a summer or school year, said girl falls in love, and comes in to her own.

Although "Along for the Ride" sticks like a squeaky wheel to this formula, I actually found it to be my favorite Dessan novel to date! I thought Auden was a more sympathetic and fully developed character than Niki, Remy, Macy, or Annabel, and her fear of making mistakes and letting her guard down made sense and were justified within the context of the story, which is a problem I've had with "This Lullaby" and "Just Listen."

I also found the supporting characters--Ester, Leah, Wallace, and especially Maggie, Adam, Heidi, and Auden's family to be much richer, and the life lessons Auden learned from them (ie how to let loose and express your emotions and that women can be BOTH girly AND intelligent) to be more nuanced and entertaining than Dessan's usual scope.

It's certainly true that Eli and the plot points surrounding his romance with Auden are very reminiscent of Macy and Wes in "The Truth About Forever...," but the little details of their late night escapades, made their chemistry feel fresh enough to me, although I would be interested to see if Dessan could crack her romantic interest mold of Eli/Nate/Dexter/Wes/Owen etc., and give us a guy who is truly original.
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