Genre: Realistic Fiction/ Romance
# of Pages: 383 p.
RAC Book: Yes
Like other Dessen books, Along for the Ride follows a teenage girl, Auden, who is trying to enjoy the summer before her freshman year in college. Her entire life she has worked hard at academics and let everything else fall away. Her parents are divorced and both authors and professors, so there has always been a lot of pressure to excel. Auden’s older brother, Hollis, is more of a free spirit and has been backpacking through Europe for almost two years. Meanwhile, Auden’s dad recently remarried and had a baby girl. When life with her overbearing mother gets too difficult she decides to spend the summer with her dad and Heidi in their small beach town. Heidi is having trouble adjusting to life with a newborn since Auden’s dad spends all of his time locked in his office working on his next book. Auden meets a troubled young man who seems to open up to her when he won’t talk to anyone else about the horrific event in his past. As Auden navigates her own life she learns a lot from those around her.
Dessen portrays in this story how easy it can be for anyone to pass judgment on another person while not taking responsibility for his or her own choices. In the end, many of the characters learn that in order to truly be happy you have to try things that are scary, which can be anything from relationships to riding a bike, even if that means you might fail. In other words, playing it safe does not make for a satisfying life without regrets. Auden’s family has always judged anyone who does not consider academics to be the most important thing to be beneath them. During this summer of enlightenment, Auden begins to see that each person should be able to make his or her personal decisions about how to live life to the fullest and those people should have the benefit of not being judged for those choices. A page turner!