Ever since her parents began fighting, Auden has been unable to sleep at night. Now, spending a summer at a charming beach town with her father and his new family, she has to find new places to pass the time she spends awake. And so she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac who becomes her nighttime guide. Together, they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she has missed; for Eli, to come to terms with the death of a friend. In her trademark blockbuster-style, Sarah Dessen creates a powerful and irresistible story of two people learning how to connect.
I really liked this book. The characters were unique, intelligent and well-developed. That goes for the side characters also, which is really unusual for a young adult book. Looking at the cover, I was expecting a light, summer-type read. But these characters have real issues, and they are all moving forward, albeit at different paces. There is not a stereotypical character in this book. Each have layers to them that peal back as the story progresses.
Auden starts the story off as a bit of a snob. Having been raised by two ultra-selfish intellectuals, she almost couldn’t help it. I loved watching her progress to a more open-minded person throughout the course of the book. Although I did have problems with how she treated Eli. He was this fragile young man who was just beginning to show signs of healing after the death of his best friend, but Auden treats him a bit carelessly. I suppose that was part of her growth process, but it still made me sad to see it.
Speaking of Auden and Eli, the romance plotline is very understated. Considering the cover of the book, this also took me by surprise. The story really revolves around Auden and her progression. Eli does play a role in her development, and he develops himself too, but I love how Dessen allows them to work their lives out on their own. Eli doesn’t fix Auden, and Auden doesn’t fix Eli. Not only is this refreshing, but it sends a good message.
Overall, I give Along for the Ride...
Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character development - 5 bookmarks
Moral lessons - 4 1/2 bookmarks (not preachy and kind of understated, but the reader learns along with Auden)
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Rooney Mara (Auden), Jackson Rathbone (Eli), Joseph Morgan (Hollis), Mary Marguerite Keane (Maggie), Peter Sarsgaard (Dad), Jane Adams (Mom), Jessica Chastain (Heidi)