Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: June 16, 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Age Rating: Readers over 12
My Opinion: 8/10
I never thought that I would read so many realistic fiction books in such a short period of time! Realistic fiction used to be my least favorite genre, but it is slowly growing on me. For this week's It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, a blogging meme hosted by Teach Mentor Texts, Book Journeys, and Unleashing Readers, I chose to review Along for the Ride, a realistic fiction novel by Sarah Dessen. I have seen so many raving Sarah Dessen book reviews that reading Along for the Ride was practically a necessity, and I am glad I gave it a chance.
Auden has missed out on a normal childhood due to the fact that her mother and her father forced her to grow up early. Her mother is a college professor who is in high demand, and her father is a budding author who devotes all of his time to writing. After her parents' divorce, Auden strives to be the perfect child by earning stellar grades and staying out of trouble. The summer before Auden goes to college, she gets the opportunity to spend the summer at her dad's beach house. Her entire perspective starts to change as she grows close to her step-mom, Heidi, and becomes less focused on school work. Auden begins to make friends for the first time ever, and she is romantically intrigued by the mysterious former biker, Eli. After a thrilling summer full of changes, Auden has to decide if she wants to revert back to her former studious self or embrace her adventurous side.
When I saw the cover of Along for the Ride, I thought that it would be a sappy romance novel. Girl wearing pink dress, boy in jeans. Pretty typical. However, by the time that I finished the novel, I realized that the cover of the book was completely wrong. For starters, Auden would never be caught dead in a pink sundress! Auden is not a typical girly girl who has the summer of her lifetime; instead, she is a tomboy that doesn't even like the beach. Auden is not exactly a relatable main character, due to the fact that she had absolutely zero friends growing up, but she is considerate and kind to those around her, and she is a pleasure to read about.
One of the most interesting character dynamics in the book is that of Auden and Heidi. Auden initially resents Heidi because she is still upset at her parents' divorce. Plus, Auden can't see past Heidi's girly pink exterior. However, when Heidi struggles to care for her newborn baby girl, Auden really steps up to the plate and is extremely helpful. She is able to find a strong leader and a role model in Heidi and comes to love her by the end of the novel.
Overall, Along for the Ride was a pleasurable and happy read that would be great for an afternoon on the beach, but it certainly is not hard hitting or particularly memorable. It deals with issues such as divorce and drunk driving, but the novel is more cutesy and fun than deep. I would suggest that teenage girls read Along for the Ride because it has absolutely no male reader appeal, and grown ups may not appreciate Auden's coming of age story.
Happy reading and happy Monday!