Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (reissue, 2012, Speak) bought with my Xmas book tokens! 😀
Up all night.
Nights have always been Auden’s time, her chance to escape everything that’s going on around her.
Then she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac, and he becomes her nocturnal tour guide.
Now, with an endless supply of summer nights between them, almost anything can happen…
I’m still not completely convinced that I’m a Dessen fan. I can’t place my finger on it, and maybe it just comes down to the fact that her books aren’t a good ‘fit’ for me.
That said, I want to keep reading her titles. And I can devour one of her books in a day. They’re light, easy to read and compelling. But still, there’s just something… Let’s see if I can muddle through how I feel.
What worked for me?
Auden – I definitely connected with the protagonist this time (I read ‘The Moon and More’ previously and had didn’t quite ‘gel’ with the main character). I like her. I felt like there was much about her that I could relate to in both personality and in her actions to situations and people.
Relationships – This is something I think Dessen does wonderfully. The way she portrays relationships between families and friends and love interests.. it’s so tangible. It’s real. It’s messy. It’s complicated. Just like life. There’s drama, but it’s logically illogical, as it often is in RL.
Eli – Actually, without Eli I think I would have had less of an interest in this book. He really shines on the page because he’s so well rounded. And I find his back story engaging. I suppose my only hesitation is that I felt like he came across a lot older than he was supposed to be. I mean, I don’t mind, it was just something I felt after finishing the book, that Eli in my mind was years older than he was supposed to be.
What didn’t work for me?
Goal – I think I’ve found one of the things holding me back from being a full-on Dessen fangirl. When I read her books I struggle a little to keep focus because I don’t feel like the protagonist has a goal. I ask myself ‘where are they going? What do they want? How will they get there?’ but I can never find a concrete answer. I know a character’s goal can change throughout a story, but I never feel like Dessen’s characters have a goal in the first place. Things happen, people change, the story keeps moving along, but where to? It’s like we’re floating in a narrative bubble. Hm. I don’t think I’m explaining myself very well, what do you think?
Bikes – You lost me there. All the technical descriptions and tricks and whizzes.. I had no idea how to imagine that. To be fair, I got the gist, but I just couldn’t imagine the finer detail that was being described.
‘Really.’ – I spot this in each of Dessen’s books. I think it might be an Americanism? But I can’t help my hand itching for a pen to add a ‘?’. The word falls flat without one. It clangs. Maybe it’s my British ears. It doesn’t really bother me too much, it’s just something I notice, jarring me out of the story.
I like Dessen’s books well enough. And I think of the three I’ve read this is definitely my favourite. The way the theme of family is explored is really great and fully realised. It’s a sweet read, light and easy but not lacking in real emotion.
I gave it a happy 4 out of 5. But I’m still waiting for ‘the one’ when it comes to Dessen’s books. Please leave me recs!!