Number 90: Along for the Ride
I try to be as vague as I can when describing stories and books, but there are times when I accidentally or maybe not so accidentally ruin what happens in the book. Read on at your own risk.
Along for the Ride is the second book on NPR’s list that I’ve read by Sarah Dessen. The first was This Lullaby, which was a good book. It’s about a young woman, just out of high school. She’s is book smart and really good in school, but now she finds herself in the between area from high school to college. She has separated parents and a brother that used to be a bit of a loose cannon but has now begun to shape up and work a job thanks to the new woman in his life. It is a heartfelt story about change and acceptance, and it ends with her in college with her new boy toy.
Dessen out does herself in Along for the Ride, branching out and clearly reinventing her writing style. The story is about Auden, a book smart young woman that has just graduated college and she has found herself stuck in the between that unfamiliar place of having finished high school and waiting for college to begin. She has been deeply affected by her parents separation and she feels isolated and somewhat of an outcast, and it doesn’t help either that her brother is a charismatic loose cannon type that seems as though he will never settle down, until he does, of course. Once he does that he quits his wild ways and gets a job. Auden ends her transformative journey by starting college with the boy she was with during the summer.
You know what? That sounds exactly like the first. Oh wait. It is. Also, the plot is nearly identical, as far as the emotional and relationship beats go. I mean that, the types of problems and transformations made through the relationship of Auden and her boyfriend are the same. But, even despite that, it was a good book. I still think that This Lullaby was better, but this one was good too. And even despite having obvious similarities, this book stands on its own. It felt like a different story and only in the back of my mind did I notice that the situations were the same. I think it takes a talented author to do that.
This book had some great characters. Wonderful characterization. I mean, I hated the parents. I really did. I haven’t hated a character that much since Cersei from Game of Thrones (the book and I guess the show. yeah the show. I guess since I hate both of them there is no reason for this parenthesized tangent. hm. I didn’t know that parenthesized was a word until then.). Now, it’s a good thing that I was able to hate her parents. It means that the writing was excellent, because man were they shitty people. At the end of the story I had one of those “Finally!” moments when Auden actually stood up for herself and what she thought was right.
Switching to plot…this, again, was your typical love story. There were several cute moments and times that made me smile and others that made me want to cry (I wanted a Frozen clip here, but I would have had to make my own…sorry, I didn’t want to put in the time). I think it is Dessen’s skill as a writer that makes me feel the characters frustration and makes me want to cry along with the protagonist. Dessen also does a wonderful job with the transformation of her characters. It comes right when the reader wants it and needs it to happen, and I understand why Dessen seems to choose the summer before college, because this is a time of change in any normal teenager’s life. It’s all good, but best teen book ever good?
In the end, I don’t know if I feel like this book should be on the list. If it should be, it can be placed lower than it is. Maybe I just don’t feel that sense of epicness in a romance novel that I feel should qualify it to be on a best ever list. It was good. Really good, but I just feel like all published books should be good.
Wife: if you want a love story by Sarah Dessen, I recommend This Lullaby, but if you like that and want more, I say you should read this book.