I really think Sarah Dessen and I could be best friends. If you're reading this Sarah...send me an email...it's just meant to be! :) Such a brilliant author that can truly channel the teen mind and the need for "real" fiction, the latest piece of work from Dessen has probably become my favorite. I've said that as I've read each one, but really, Along for the Ride is just wonderful!
Auden is an incredibly smart girl, a girl with a great head on her shoulders, but also a girl forced to grow up quickly to impress her academic parents, even after they divorced. Always studying, always doing the right thing, Auden never had much of a childhood, not even having learned how to ride a bicycle, and so far, her teen years haven't been much better. Well this summer, Auden is just sick to death of putting up with her overbearing, uncaring mother and all the graduate students that flit in and out of the woman's life, so she decides to go spend the summer at her father's beach house, with his new wife, and her new baby sister, Thisbe.
Taking a job in her stepmother's fancy beach boutique is about the last thing Auden planned to do, as were falling in love with both a guy and her baby sister, or forgetting to study all summer long. But work, fall in love, and become a "real girl" she does, and the experience is both satisfying and terrifying. Her simple, lonely life has become one filled to the brim with people and emotions and Auden isn't quite sure how to live anymore.
In true Sarah Dessen fashion, the reader gets the overall, perfect YA book experience. The characters feel like they could be kids you go to school with (and they all have fabulous names), the situations are ones that teens today really find themselves in, and the connections Dessen makes between plot, character, and reader is truly remarkable. One of the best I've read this year, by far.
Recommended for all libraries, as gifts, home shelves, wherever. Just go buy it.
I read this for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge and the Young Adult Challenge.
Along for the Ride