Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Along for the Ride

I actually LOVED this book. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. When I get more time, I'll probably read her other books too, it was THAT well crafted. Voice, plot, characters. Everything. Love!

Synopsis:
First, a rave review from Amazon, which I agree with completely:
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.
Now the synopsis:

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
First Sentence:
"The e-mails always began the same way. 
Hi Auden!!
It was the extra exclamation point that got me. My mother would call it extraneous, overblown, exuberant. To me, it was simply annoying, just like everything else about my stepmother, Heidi."
I had to give you more than the first sentence, because it's funny. Well, I laughed. She so perfectly captures both Auden, her mother, and Heidi. You don't learn everything there is to know about them in the first page (good thing!). What this does is set us up for learning about them, which we do, slowly throughout the entire novel.

Beefs: Hm... nope, fresh out.

Brownie Points: The other characters. Yes, I loved Auden. She's witty and funny and serious and has great voice. But what really set this apart from other witty, funny, serious, great voiced books, are the supporting cast. I loved each and every one of them. I could clearly imagine them, would have hung out with them.

Ending: The problems in this novel didn't magically get better at the end. There was a sense of finality while showing that things don't end--there is no Happily Ever After, cuz the story keeps going (in the magical land where books characters exist and their lives don't end on the last page)!

Recommendation: If you like YA contemporary romance, read it. If you've been thinking about trying a YA romance, read it. If you like complex characters and a great read, read it.

Would I represent it? Previously, I hadn't considered myself as a YA romance kind of girl. I am now.

Happy reading!

11 comments:

Cambria Dillon said...

I LOVE SARAH DESSEN! You need to read Dreamland. It's one of her grittier stories, but she's such a master at character and smooth plotting. I'm so glad you picked up one of her books!

Kristine Asselin said...

I'm adding this to my TBR pile right away. Thanks for the recommendation. By the way, I finished MATCHED over the weekend. LOVE IT!

Nora Coon said...

This was my first Sarah Dessen book too, and I was wonderfully surprised - not sure why people refer to her books as beach reads when there are such delightfully complex and messed-up characters inhabiting them.

Christina said...

Now, I will have to read it.

Rachel said...

All of Sarah's rock but along with Along for the Ride, my favorites are The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby. Lock and Key also has great guy characters. Basically this chick can write :-)

annie said...

I don't tend to think of myself as a YA romance fan either, except for Sarah Dessen. She just handles all the relationships so well and makes sure everything feels pretty natural.

erica and christy said...

OMG I love Sarah Dessen (only slightly because I write YA romance). I blogged about The Truth About Forever (which I use as a comp in my query) a few months ago and love Along for the Ride, too. My only, very tiny, complaint about it is that she labels Auden as an insomniac, when really she just sleeps during the day.
erica

lsmurphy.com said...

Sarah Dessen is great. I love how she weaves her stories with such well rounded characters. My first Dessen novel was Just Listen. I couldn't put it, or any of her other novels, down once I started them.

Cristina Roock said...

You definitely need to read Dreamland. I started reading this book but never finished =O

Trisha said...

I haven't read it but it sounds great! :D

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