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102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect summer read
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...
Published on June 21, 2009 by Lauren G

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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Along for the Ride
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...
Published on July 18, 2009 by Runa


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102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect summer read, June 21, 2009
This review is from: Along for the Ride (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. Along for the Ride took you away from your life and put you into Auden's. It's the perfect young adult book - one that presents a problem and finds ways to solve it.

The main characters were incredibly real - everyone had one of them in high school. There was the beautiful Maggie who was actually smarter than she looked. The party girl Leah, and the big mistake Jake. There was Eli, the secretive love interest with a heart of gold. And Adam, the extremely affectionate best friend. And then there was Auden, a girl with a secret of her own, who was still trying to figure herself out.

I loved so much about the book. I loved that I could actually see Colby - I knew the map of it like my own neighborhood. I loved that everyone went to the Gas/Gro before going out because in the past I had a similar place. And I loved the importance of the summer - the last for everyone before college. How important it was to make it "the best of times," because at that age, everyone wants to.

The writing was spot on, incredibly detailed and relatable. It's a book you could pick up and easily slide back into Dessen's world. I liked the hope it brought, as well as the message. I liked how Eli and Auden hung out at night because neither could sleep. How the world is so much different once people are asleep. And now, I too now look at the houses around me and wonder why someone else might be awake at 1am. What's their story?

There was one quote that I especially enjoyed. Towards the beginning, the girls stock up on food at the Gas/Gro. After Auden asks why they do it, night after night, Esther replies "I don't know. It's like, we're headed out somewhere. You never know what's going to happen. So you stop for supplies." Indeed.

Along for the Ride is the perfect summer read - set at the beach, you could practically hear the waves pouring out of the pages. It's the first book I've read of Sarah Dessen's and definitely won't be my last. In fact, I might have already set up a book store trip with my own group of friends to get another.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Along for the Ride, July 18, 2009
This review is from: Along for the Ride (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Content to coast along for the ride, June 19, 2009
This review is from: Along for the Ride (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.

I felt that Dessan's trademark extended metaphor "riding a bike" gelled with the plot and with Auden's growing realization that when you makes mistakes, you should get back on that bike, in a way that previous Dessen metaphors such as "lock and key,""modeling," "running," "painting" etc. seemed forced.

Overall, I was happy to coast along on this ride, and I would recommend this book to fans of Dessan and young adult literature. However, should readers wish to ride along a different path, I advise seeking out new ground.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well..., June 19, 2009
By 
Jenny (Reno, Nevada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Along for the Ride (Hardcover)
It's a good book don't get me wrong.

However...

Most of the characters feel very impersonal. The motifs are painfully obvious and over worked. There is a lot of telling vs showing which is a first for me with a Dessen novel. As I read I couldn't help it when the word formulaic came to mind. The only thing I found convincing in this book was Heidi and her baby. All the other things seriously just kind of died in a gimmicky pink blur of previous awesomeness (I mostly am referring to previous books by Sarah Dessen).

What disappointed me the most though: Eli and Auden's adventures were glossed over. The adventures were (I thought prior to reading the book) the meat of the book; the crux of all of Auden's problems; the heart of her relationship with Eli- all of that totally just got... skipped. The book never tapped into the magic of being out at night, on a quest, with the boy you like-like, or even the chemistry that happens between two people when they share experiences like that. It seemed to be a lot more telling vs showing when it came to this rather critical part of the book. (I am REALLY not a fan of one paragraph to sum up a week's worth of magical nights that bonded the characters together that I never even adequately got to see!)

I think there was a LOT going on in this book and it I got lost along the way. Too many loose ends, the focus was all over the place, and the Beach Bash Prom thing just seemed like a cop out. C'mon a prom-night centered climax? Uh...no.

All in all I'm disappointed and would recommend her earlier works. When I don't personally connect with the characters I can't seem to have much love for the book as was the case here. I will probably get a lot of thumb downs but that's really how I felt about the book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and enjoyable, June 16, 2009
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This review is from: Along for the Ride (Hardcover)
Auden has always been highly motivated and focused on her schoolwork, pushed by her successful scholar of a mother and bestselling writer father. When her parents split up, Auden becomes an insomniac, and becomes all too familiar with the night. The summer before she starts college, she decides to live with her father, his new wife, and their newborn daughter. There, in a small beach town full of eclectic people, Auden realizes all that she has missed out on, and discovers that maybe it's not too late to grab on to all the life has to offer.

Along for the Ride is a heartfelt, humorous, and thoughtful read by popular author Sarah Dessen that readers will devour. Dessen creates an enchanting setting in the beach town of Colby, one that every girl can't help but fall for, and a cast of characters that are charming, witty, and captivating. Auden's epiphany of all the things that she missed out on while concentrating on her academics and her resulting mission to make up for all of the things she missed out on is entertaining and perceptive, and sure to resound with many readers. Her other discovery, that people aren't always as they appear, may be cliché, but nonetheless meaningful within the context of the novel. A reoccurring debate within the novel is whether or not people ever really change, and Dessen does an exemplary job relating that issue to Auden's story. Full of all the wonders of summer time, Along for the Ride is an insightful and enjoyable read full of romance, healing, discovery, and wonderful friendships that will charm readers and inspire them to take advantage of every opportunity to live life to its fullest.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Sarah Dessen's Best, December 31, 2010
This review is from: Along for the Ride (Hardcover)
Firstly, I would like to say that I would recommend any of Sarah Dessen's other books in a flash. If I were to write reviews about them here, they would all be five stars. This book, however, is different.

After thinking about what felt "wrong" with this book, I realized that Dessen spent an inexplicable amount of time telling and not showing. It felt like pages and pages--probably over half of this unnecessarily long book--were dedicated to the main character, Auden, merely explaining what her days were like. She would go on and on, repeatedly describing her weekly routines. But as a reader, I never fully experienced any of these routines with Auden. I was just made vaguely aware of the fact that they had occurred.

Also, Dessen's writing felt...lazy. There's one sentence in the book that makes a perfect example. Here's Auden describing another character's facial expression: "...you kind of had to see it to understand."

Dessen wrote this way throughout the entire book, never quite getting around to describing things. After almost 400 pages, I realized that I couldn't even form clear mental images of Auden or her friends. Dessen's writing style totally changed for this book.

Eli, too, was a major disappointment. He was spoken of often ("I spend most of my time with Eli these days..."), but was rarely in the actual spotlight. I definitely didn't know him well enough to find him memorable, let alone likable.

"Along for the Ride" was an utter disappointment. If this is your first time reading a novel by Sarah Dessen, choose another story by her. Perhaps "Just Listen" or "The Truth About Forever."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sarah Dessen is love, June 17, 2009
This review is from: Along for the Ride (Hardcover)
The book Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen reminds me why I love the wonderful Sarah Dessen. True it's the same "formula" but it's the "elements" added that make Along for the Ride great. Okay fine the heroine's in her stories always have a problem and they discover their solution in some way towards the end but the problems differ entirely. None of her stories are the same. Her way of writing engages you into the story and its characters
With Auden I find myself feeling like I know her and have been her. There is this naïve or an almost childlike feeling to Auden that makes me relate to her, she's new to everything so to say. But give her a book to read or an essay to write and she can do those kinds of things. Academics define Auden. She never really related to girls her age, never had any real friends, but that all changes the summer she decided to stay with her father, his new wife, and newborn sister.
Personally I think that the reason she "recycles" characters is because it's kind of an Easter egg for the long time readers. But if you're new to her stories then you don't miss anything. Also the message isn't only that you can't judge someone by their appearance. But something much more than that, such as if you're given a second chance then do something and don't let that chance pass by we shouldn't take them for granted. And secondly that people don't always stay the same but do in fact change; not always but there are those rare occasions. Auden learns this in one summer that will be known to her as: "The Best of Times."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Along for the Ride, May 3, 2012
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Throughly enjoyed this book. It touches on many problems teens as well as adults have in their lives. It is well written and draws you into the characters immediately.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay story with lackluster heroine..., January 20, 2010
This review is from: Along for the Ride (Hardcover)
I've read every Sarah Dessen book (with exception of Someone Like You) and had varying degrees of like as I finished with them. Regardless of that, Auden, the main character of Along for the Ride, is the first Dessen heroine that I disliked.

At the beginning, I found Auden snobby, pretentious, selfish, etc. I don't know if it's because that's the way the parents were portrayed, but I just couldn't completely warm to her. After a while I did start to find her less annoying, although, a couple of bothersome aspects remained.

In my opinion, where Dessen excels are the supporting characters, but even they felt a bit forced to me. I didn't fall in love with Eli the way I usually do with the guy in her other books. I also felt that while Maggie was a bit fleshed out, nothing came of Leah or Esther. I had no idea what their purpose was in the book. Their presence just fell flat.

But I gave it three stars. That's mostly because Sarah Dessen's books are comfortable. They're just about a regular girl falling in love with a normal guy. And after a plethora of supernatural YA novels out there on the market, it's refreshing to just go back to the basic formula. Girl goes away for the summer. She meets regular boy. They fall in love. It is a predictable formula, but I like it.

So, Along for the Ride wasn't my favorite Sarah Dessen novel (Keeping the Moon is), but it was better than That Summer, it just didn't keep up with Keeping the Moon, Just Listen, or Dreamland. Still, it was a quick read (read it in about a day and a half) and had a few funny and heartwarming parts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dessens Just OK This Time, August 10, 2009
This review is from: Along for the Ride (Hardcover)
I LOVE the majority of the other books written by Sarah Dessen. And I wanted to love this one too, but in the end it was just a little flat for me.
In this book Auden decides to spend the summer living with her father, stepmother, and new half sister instead of her mom. While in Colby (the town she moves to) she meets new friends and a guy who is an insomniac like her. They, both intentionally and unintentionally, help her to do things that most people do as children that she never really got to.
It felt like a lot of issues were raised in the book that were only skimmed over or rushed into a happy ending at the end. The charachters were a little boring for me, and my biggest complaint is that there was not enough of Eli. He was pretty central to the story, but I feel like I never really got much of a personality for him.
I think that I might have like the story better if it had felt to me that the story logically culminated in the ending it was given.
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Along for the Ride
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (Paperback - April 5, 2011)
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