Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride

Sarah Dessen
For ages 14 and up
Penguin, 2009   ISBN: 978-0670011940

In just a few months, Auden is going to be going to college. She had planned on spending the summer getting ready for college by reading her textbooks, but instead, on a whim, she decides to go to spend the summer with her father, who lives in a coastal town with his wife and his new baby daughter.

Auden arrives with a suitcase full of textbooks, which she intends to read during the long nights. Ever since her parents began to have problems, Auden has had a hard time sleeping at night, so she has become a veteran night owl who knows where the all-night coffee places are.

She hasn’t been at her father’s house long before Auden gets a job working in her stepmother’s clothing boutique. Working on Heidi’s books will give Auden something to do in the evening. Auden has no interest in the clothes in the shop, and she keeps her distance from the girls who work in the store, until one night when she agrees to go out with the girls.

As she spends time with the girls - and some of the local boys as well - Auden realizes that she has missed out on a lot. She never learned to ride a bike, and never delivered newspapers. She never went bowling, and she missed her prom. One of the boys she meets is Eli, a distant boy who suffered a terrible loss not long ago. Eli decides that it is his job to help Auden to do at least some of the things that she missed. Together the two teenage night owls fulfill Auden’s quest to experience some of the things that everyone should experience at least once in their life.

As she takes her second chances, Auden finds herself exploring her relationship with her parents. She realizes how much her mother’s intellectual snobbery has isolated her, and how much her father’s selfishness has impacted her life. She also sees that it is important to do things that are new to you. You cannot only do the things that you are good at, because it you do, you miss out on so much.

This wonderful book introduces readers to a character who learns a great deal in a short period of time. Some of her discoveries are painful, but in the long run they help her to figure out who she is and what she wants.