Along for the Ride


Title: Along for the Ride

Author: Sarah Dessen

ISBN: 0670011940

Publisher: Viking

Copyright Date: 2009

Plot Summary:

Auden West is an exceptional student with a pathway to success spread out before her.  The summer before she is to leave for college, she agrees to stay with her father and his new wife at their beachfront property.  Auden is an insomniac, who spends her days sleeping and her nights frequenting coffee shops and studying.  Auden does not socialize much with her peers, but this changes when she obtains a job working at a boutique.  Her night wanderings also lead her to a boy named Eli, who also has trouble sleeping.  They eventually develop a romantic relationship.

A regretful encounter with another boy at the beginning of summer, lands Auden into a bit of drama.  In addition, Auden struggles with her father’s seeming disinterest in her presence.  Auden spends the summer coming to terms with her parents’ divorce and deciding what kind of person she wants to be.

Critical Evaluation:

This book is a very typical Sarah Dessen book. The story follows a female protagonist with family issues who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and meets a boy. Although not my favorite of her books, it was nonetheless a good read. I think the character of Auden would have been very relatable to myself as a teen. I did not have problems sleeping, but I too was very bookish and inexperienced with managing relationships. Many teens come from broken families, so they may be able to better relate to Auden’s struggle with her parents’ divorce. My parents are fortunately still together, but I have many close friends who struggled through this issue in high school. The storylines are very realistic, and I think this lends it some degree of truth to its readers.

Reader’s Annotation: Auden is an insomniac. Unable to sleep, she roams her father’s beach town by night and ultimately discovers a world of new possibilities.

About the Author:

“Sarah Dessen grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating with highest honors in Creative Writing. She is the author of several novels, including SOMEONE LIKE YOU, JUST LISTEN and ALONG FOR THE RIDE. A motion picture based on her first two books, entitled How to Deal, was released in 2003. Her 11th novel, THE MOON AND MORE, was published in June 2013. She lives in North Carolina.”

Genre: Young adult, realistic fiction, romance, coming-of-age

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Talk about how Auden and her little sister got their names.
  • Talk about Auden learning to ride a bike.

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12, Ages 14-18

Challenge Issues: strong sensuality, teen partying

Defense File:

Chapter 5 of Youth, Pornography, and the Internet (2002)

Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 1989-;90 CD #61.2

Justification of Selection: This is a true coming of age drama that follows a girl’s personal journey to self-realization and acceptance. These are common themes that most teen can relate to.


The Book Report, Inc. (2015). Sarah Dessen. TeenReads. Retrieved from

Along for the Ride

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