Along for the Ride


Title: Along for the Ride

Author: Sarah Dessen

Series: N/A

Publisher: Speak

Release Date: June 16th 2009


Five Stars

Up all night.

Nights have always been Auden’s time, her chance to escape everything that’s going on around her.

Then she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, and he becomes her nocturnal tour guide.

Now, with an endless supply of summer nights between them, almost anything can happen…

– Blurb courtesy of

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“What defines you isn’t how many times you crash but the number of times you get back on the bike. As long as it’s one more, you’re all good.”

Ever so slowly catching up on Sarah Dessen’s newest releases the next one on my list was Along for the Ride; reading this book was the perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon, and now reviewing this book is going to be the perfect way to spend a Saturday evening.

Although she plans to spend her last summer break before going to university the same way she has spent pretty much all her free time – studying, avoiding her mother and the last night gatherings she hosts for her graduate students – after speaking to her brother Auden decides she needs something more. While she can’t hop on a plane and travel to Paris, or Rome, or Amsterdam like Hollis she can go to North Carolina and spend time with her father, his new wife, and her new baby sister.

Unfortunately Auden’s summer with her father is not what she thought it would be; her father locks himself away trying to write his next great masterpiece, her sister won’t stop crying, and her step mum is exhausted trying to look after Thisbe on her own. When she tries to help Heidi with her store one evening, unable to sleep, Auden ends up getting a part time job there managing the finances and it’s there Auden meets Maggie, Leah and Esther.

“I’d learn that it’s not just where you go, but how you choose to get there. So I pulled that sign off the green bike – ENJOY YOUR RIDE! – and went inside to take the first step toward doing just that.”

Auden is struggling with something much more than just how to fill her days before she goes to university though. Ever since her parents fought in the night while they were still married Auden has been unable to sleep thought the night and instead spends her time wandering around the town. It’s on one of these nightly strolls that she first sees Eli.

The two of them strike up a friendship, and Eli spends the nights showing Auden the secrets of the town that only the locals know, and helping her reclaim her lost childhood and all the experiences she missed out on having grown up all too quickly.

…The Characters

“Sometimes, you get things right the first time. Others, the second. But the third time, they say, is the charm.”

Auden reminded me of Ruby, the protagonist from Lock and Key, a little at the beginning. The two characters weren’t at all similar in personalities or in their family situations, but both were very closed off from the world around them and the reader at the beginning. Like Ruby though the more time Auden spends with Eli and the small circle of friends she makes, including her step mum and her new sister, the more she opens up.

When she was a child Auden was forced to become an adult, and she never got the chance to have a normal childhood doing the kinds of things other kids did. Her mother is ambitious and all about book smarts over everything else, and she passed that along to Auden who feels she has to be different from other typical girls in order to earn her mother’s approval. Auden’s relationship with her parents is a major theme in this book, and I thought all their interactions were brilliantly written.

“Failing sucks. But it’s better than the alternative.”
“Which is?”
“Not even trying.” Now he did look at me, straight on. “Life’s short, you know?”

Eli lost his best friend, and ever since then everything that brought him joy seemed to have been stripped from his life. However when he starts spending time with Auden on their night journeys he opens up more, maybe because she doesn’t know about his past he feels he can be more himself with her. While Eli helps Auden reclaim some of her lost childhood Auden helps drag Eli back into the world again after he shut himself away.

I loved the way the relationship between Eli and Auden developed. The two reached out to each other because they represented something they needed. For Eli Auden was a fresh chance; someone who didn’t know about his past, what happened to his best friend, and who didn’t look at him with pity. For Auden Eli was someone who shared her insomnia; someone who she could waste the hours away with before the sun rose and she could finally fall asleep.

“Maybe it was true, and being a girl could be about interest rates and skinny jeans, riding bikes and wearing pink. Not about any one thing, but everything.”

However more than the relationship with Eli I loved seeing Auden’s relationship with her friends and her step mum develop as well. At the very beginning Auden is still influenced by everything her mother thinks about typical girls, she sees herself as apart from them and doesn’t make an effort to join in or understand when they talk about things like fashion and boys. The more time she spends with them though the more she realises she was wrong to judge them by her mother’s standards, that there is something more to each of them than she first thought.

The friendship between Maggie and Auden was my favourite part of this story. It would have been all too easy for Sarah Dessen to have made Maggie the enemy for Auden; the classic mean girl trope you find in a lot of YA contemporary novels set in high school. Dessen doesn’t do this however, and I felt it made the story so much better seeing both Maggie and Auden develop, and their friendship with one another develop alongside them.

I honestly don’t think there is ever going to be a Sarah Dessen book I don’t like. While Just Listen remains my favourite Along for the Ride is a brilliant addition to the YA contemporary genre. There are none of the usual tropes you find in this genre, instead it’s a refreshing story about family, friendship and about learning who you are.

What did you think of Along for the Ride? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

32 thoughts on “Along for the Ride

  1. I’m going to guess the author of this book…Sarah Dessen? 😉🤣
    I love how much you love her books. I already know she is an auto-buy for you at this point…how many books has she written? It’s like she and Colleen Hoover have the contemporary market down! Bc of how much you love this author, whenever I see a book by her I am tempted to pick it up. But I need to get myself into a contemporary mood. I’m going to be reading Holding Up The Universe (as you remember, I picked it over A Shadow Bright and Burning so I must have subconsciously been wanting to give the genre a try)…hopefully that one will open me up to the possibility of other contemporary books! I also have A Careful Undressing of You from Penguin First To Read, so I’m hoping that’s good, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, good guess! 😀
      Yeah she is definitely an auto-buy author for me, and by this point I kind of already know whatever she releases I’m going to love, luckily this one was no exception.
      She has a book coming out next year which will be her thirteenth release, I’m still trying to catch up honestly! 🙂
      If you want to try and get into more of a contemporary mood then I’d recommend Sarah Dessen, she definitely has the YA market cornered, along with Colleen Hoover, Morgan Matson and Kasie West I think. Also I really am hoping you enjoy Holding Up the Universe, hopefully it will start you on a contemporary kick like I’ve been sometimes. 🙂


  2. Great review Beth! It’s nice to hear that the friendship between the characters was legit and well done. There should be more awesome chemistry (besides romance) like that in books! 😀

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the idea behind this book! Maybe I should visit my town whenever I can’t sleep, but I’m too much of a wuss for that, haha! It’s nice to know this author doesn’t go for the easy path with the enemy trope. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a great concept, and I’d love to explore my town late at night/early in the morning but I’m too much of a wimp as well, and normally asleep! 😀
      I was definitely pleased she didn’t go down the mean girl path but honestly Sarah Dessen doesn’t tend to write to the normal tropes cliches when it comes to YA contemporary books.
      Thanks Donna! 🙂


  4. This is one of Dessen’s novels that I still haven’t gotten around to myself but hopefully will be able to soon. Especially with how much we’ve been chatting about her novels. I need to pick more of them up. Along for the Ride seems to be everything that I love about her books – fantastic friendships, romance, family dynamics, and incredible character development. She just does all of those so well. Also, I love how this one doesn’t have a mean girl trope. I really get tired of that trope haha. I think when I do finally have the chance to commence my catch up reading of her novels I’m going to start with this one. Great review, Beth! 😊♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly I’m a little behind on her newest releases as well. I was going to start What Happened to Goodbye next but instead I’m thinking of re-reading Just Listen because it is my favourite! 😀
      Along for the Ride is kind of typical of a Sarah Dessen book I think, it has everything that made all her others successful but it’s its own book at the same time. Honestly I was a little surprised at the lack of the mean girl trope. Don’t get me wrong I loved that it wasn’t in this book but it just seems to be in so many YA books I’ve come to expect it from them all you know?
      That sounds like a great idea Melissa, and I hope you enjoy it as well! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yay for a Just Listen reread! I’m due for a reread of that one too. I keep saying I will but I haven’t been able to get around to it yet. Hopefully soon!
        I kind of love how Sarah Dessen can take these concepts that are so often in YA contemporaries and even patterns from her owns books and make them so unique. It’s great that even though she has a typical style with writing contemporaries it never grows old.
        I know what you mean. The book I’m currently reading has the mean girl trope in it and it’s probably the only part of the book I’m not a fan of so far.
        You’re welcome, Beth!! 💕😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it’s going to have to happen. It’s my favourite Sarah Dessen book and I haven’t read it in ages!
        Exactly, and for me her books are never going to grow old because I read them and am constantly surprised by the direction she takes both her stories and her characters. ❤
        It's always a shame isn't it? I'd rather see strong friendships than mean girl tropes which just seem too close to girl-hate for my liking.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Her books will never grow old for me either. She’s one of the reasons I started and still read YA contemporary and I feel the same about her never failing to surprise me. Plus, her books really have a more classic (couldn’t think of a better word) YA contemporary feel. There’s always a romance, friendships, and family. It’s nice to have a simple read yet surprising read. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      4. While she isn’t so much one of the reasons I started reading contemporary she is one of the first contemporary authors I actually started reading, and even all these years later I still love her books.
        They have a set formula don’t they? But at the same time they don’t feel the same to one another. You can always tell when you’ve picked up a Sarah Dessen book but at the same time you don’t really know where the story will lead you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I’m actually glad too because she’s one of my favourite authors so I love being able to go into one of her books and coming out at the end having loved it.
      It’s a shame this wasn’t as good for you though, but at least it hasn’t put you off the rest of her work right?
      Thanks! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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