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Along for the Ride Hardcover – June 16, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 297 customer reviews

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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


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

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: HL750L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (June 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670011940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670011940
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (297 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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