I have read every Sarah Dessen book. I was so excited to learn she was coming out with a new one, Along for the Ride, that I marked the pub date on my calendar.  Was the wait worth it?  Absolutely.  Finished it in 2 days time too – it would have taken me less time but I had to factor in pesky responsibilities like work. I love the way Dessen writes.  Her characters are always real, and the storylines are believable – you can’t ask for more than that!

As with other Dessen books, there are multiple lessons learned in this book.  The two that I felt that were most important and I know it sounds cliché is Live, Love, Laugh and Never judge a book by its cover. Along for the Ride is about a girl named Auden, fresh out of high school, ready to embark on the next leg of life but doesn’t really know how to do it. The academic part she has down pat, the fun, let loose and be free part she has a lot of trouble with. Auden didn’t have the typical childhood – she was more of an adult than a kid while she was growing up, entertaining herself through countless adult dinner parties revolving around academia. 

She missed out on so many rites of growing up – racing up and down her block on bicycles or skates, hanging out at the pool with friends, going on dates and even the prom.  While it was great that she had such a drive to do well, her parents, now divorced, incredibly high expectations was also very damaging to her psyche. The cherry topping – Auden is an insomniac. Nothing though, no matter what changes occur cures her insomnia.  Of course this can be a good thing too at least in her case.  I can relate to the insomnia issue – it just too bad that I haven’t met the guy of my dreams during one of my episodes.

I felt sorry for her many times through the book. 

So she escapes for the summer, leaving her overbearing mother behind, to live with her father, stepmother and brand new sister. Is she trading one mess for another?  It proves to be a summer of change and friendship and love.    Auden definitely doesn’t have an easy time of it – she has a lot to face from the how the turmoil of her of parent’s divorce has really affected her to actually having real friendships with girls and a guy who is genuinely interested in her. 

Thisbee shows Auden how to love unconditionally and the power of connecting.  Eli shows her the magic of first love and where to get a great cup of coffee and a slice of pie in the middle of the night. Finally Maggie, Leah and Esther show how great friendships can be. Everyday brings something new and her summer in Colby teaches her to enjoy and appreciate the life she does have.  

A perfect summer read.