Goodreads Summary: "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.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect."
I think one of the things that I love the most about Sarah Dessen's writing is that she doesn't limit her own YA to high schoolers; she has written several books about that dreadful in between time where you've graduated from high school but haven't quite hit college yet. I'm hoping someday she might even tackle being in college as part of the "New YA" wave that is slowly hitting because I just know she would nail it.
Auden is one of those characters that you just want to reach out to and befriend. She's that awkward character who has been left out of so much, that has missed so many valuable life experiences trying to live up to being someone else, the type of person that everyone can relate to. We all have our regrets, those things that we wish we could do-over or even, for that matter, do for the first time. Auden is that girl. Auden is the girl full of regrets. She has lived her life up until now in a certain way, a way that her parents would be proud of, without taking the time for those little things that so many teenagers take for granted.
I know myself well enough to know that when it comes to Dessen boys I can go on forever so before I talk about Eli, I want to say one thing. Perhaps even better than her boys, whom I love dearly, Sarah Dessen captures girls...and most importantly the friendship between them. [Friendship in general really, but for a girl who hasn't been much of a girly girl (AKA, I struggled with the notion of having close girlfriends...or any for that matter) she really helps you to understand the dynamics.] I love reading about the friendships in her novels because she has a way of bringing them alive, of making them feel so real, and heart-warming. The kind of friendships we all hope to one day experience or to continue with if we're already lucky enough to have them.
Eli is that boy who is struggling in the opposite direction, he has done it all and is now questioning what the meaning of it was, where he is going next. He comes across as the tall, dark and handsome brooding type of male. But there is so much more to him. Sarah Dessen is amazing when it comes to layering her boys, gracing them with more than just the average stereotypes. Her boys feel real, like someone you could meet on the street and Eli is no exception. He is, in fact, as Shrek would say an onion. And you'll love getting to his core...or center...or whatever it is you call the center of an onion.
Along For the Ride is a book about friendship, about second chances and most fittingly a book about being able to just let go of the handlebars and enjoy the ride.