"You know, if you don't know how to ride a bike, it's nothing to be ashamed of," Eli said.
"I can ride a bike," I said. "I just . . . I haven't had the opportunity in a while."
RIDING A BIKE IS ONLY ONE OF THE MANY THINGS AUDEN'S MISSED OUT ON. Even before her parents' divorce, she was cast in the role of little adult, never making waves, focusing on academics to please her demanding mother.
Now she's spending the summer before college in the tiny beach town of Colby with her father and his new wife and baby. A job in a trendy boutique introduces her to the world of girls, their friendships, conversations, romances. And then there's Eli, an intriguing loner. A former star on the bike circuit and a fellow insomniac, Eli introduces Auden to the nocturnal world of Colby. Together they embark on a quest: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she's been denied; for Eli, to put a tragic episode behind him. Combine two lonely people with a charming beach town and an endless supply of long summer nights, and just about anything can happen.
Once again, Sarah Dessen creates a rich and satisfying world that readers will hate to leave.
(c) Front, inside flap, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. - http://www.sarahdessen.com/along-for-the-ride
"Along for the Ride...provides the interpersonal intricacies fans expect from a Dessen plot. Rounding out her latest offering with richly depicted female friendships, Dessen offers up a summertime tale of self-discovery." —Horn Book
"Dessen reworks well-traveled terrain and creates a remarkably original story with realistic teen dialogue, authentic girl friendships and a complez underlying question: Can people really change?" —Kirkus Reviews
AWARDS AND HONOURS
New York Times Bestselling Author
Young adult fiction, ages 14-18; hardcover, 383 pages.
(c) Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Along-Ride-Sarah-Dessen/dp/0670011940
Since her parents divorce, Auden West had idolised her mother. No, her entire life, she'd looked up to the woman, a college professor, who let nobody get in her way. Stone-cold, without a care in the world--that's what Auden longed to be. But a little bit of her had always longed to be like her brother, Hollis, who had been touring Europe since the end of high school. After her father had remarried and had a child with Heidi, Auden's stepmother, Auden decides that she'll go spend the summer in a quaint beach town called Colby. It's like any other beach town, with a pier and loads of shops, but it's still smaller than the suburbs that Auden's used to. Not having any friends left behind, Auden has no care in the world except to start reading her college textbooks to prepare herself for school in the fall.
But one night, when Auden decides to go to a party on the beach, she gets frisky with a boy and things start to change for her. For the first time, she finds herself in the middle of a bunch of teen-girl drama; the boy she'd fooled around with behind the sand dunes, Jake, was actually Maggie's ex-boyfriend. Maggie is an employee of Heidi's trendy little boutique called Clementine's. Since Heidi's been busy taking care of the baby, Maggie and the two other employees, Leah and Esther, have been taking care of the shop, but have other drama going on as well; Leah noticed the payroll going screwy later that day--they haven't been paid!
A quick call to Heidi has her realise that the checkbook is at the house, and she asks Auden to please take it down to the shop. Auden agrees, and makes her way down to the shop, walking in to simply return the checkbook. But when Maggie's friends walk in with coffee to cheer up Maggie so she wouldn't be hung up over Jake, they start describing the girl who'd hooked up with him the night before. Maggie points out Auden, who fits the exact description, and things get twisted. The girls immediately hate Auden, and she has to fight to explain to them that Jake means absolutely nothing to her. Even better, when Auden decides to take a job at Heidi's shop to do invoices and payroll for her, they have to set their differences aside, and actually become friends.
On the side of all of this, there's Eli. The mysterious boy who knows just how to make the baby--Thisbe--stop crying. The shadow that Auden sees at the end of the pier riding his bike late at night. And worst of all--Jake's brother. Little did she know that he had a big secret--one that involved the death of his best friend, Abe. But as they get to know each other, Eli starts to open up, and Auden becomes more of a normal girl. When Eli finds out that Auden had never ridden a bike before (biking is what he lives for) he decides that he's going to take her through all of the things she missed while being a "little adult." He shows her everything that childhood should be made of.
Inevitably, they fall for each other, but this creates another mess with the girls of Clementine's, as even though they're friends with Auden, they were friends with Eli first. They don't want to see the boy hurt. And when Auden pulls away, with the summer coming to a close, the plot thickens, and a novel that could have been predicted from the beginning becomes as unpredictable as the weather patterns.
Yet again, Dessen has written another incredibly novel, set in a world that teens won't want to leave. As this book finishes, the reader will find themselves wanting to re-read it again and again, just to get that feeling of being there with the characters, in their quaint little beach town with the sun shining bright ahead and the smell of the ocean, less than a mile away. Dessen created a simple world that one will lose myself in as they read this book. She is a very talented author, and she doesn't fail to impress with her latest book.
Overall Rating: A+.