Along For The Ride By Sarah Dessen is the story of Auden Wests summer. Auden has always been what society see’s as dull. She says that she is “accustomed to being alone, and she liked it.” (yawn) She is highly educated and has always lived exactly how her mother expects her to. Over the summer she goes to stay with her father after feeling a sudden urge to be more like her free-spirited brother. The story from here on in is relatively predictable, she finds summer love, makes new ‘besties’ and changes her straight cut mannerism.
This novel to me was an absolute bore. I persevered to the end, hoping for a scandalous plot twist of some sort, and was let down. It is your classic ‘coming of age’ novel, predictable from the beginning. I could not immerse myself in this novel because it was difficult to relate to. My life is not predictable, it’s not in a perfect order of events, I would find that lifestyle boring. The book is set up in a way that I could not relate to. Dessen has written some strong easy-reading pieces that I have really enjoyed so I had high hopes for this storyline. However, I was faced with a novel that was made of an empty plot. I read it as an unnecessary squabble. It lacked power.  I did not have the ‘wow’ factor that draws me into Dessens work.
Then there is Audens mother. This character really grinds my gears. Dr Victoria West (mother of Auden) is a “Mensa level” scholar who has treated her daughter like an adult since she was a child. She lacks all of the values a mother should hold. She holds no compassion. She is not supportive towards either of her children’s personal choices. Dr Victoria West is somebody who I would describe as cold, she believes the world revolves around her. As a mother, she is quick to judge her children when they don’t follow her ‘master plan’ of high education and professionalism. But in the background, she has inappropriate sexual relationships with her students, and can not cope when Auden leaves and there is nobody left to control.
Dr Victoria West does not believe in change. She made sure Auden knew this and often lectured her about the topic saying things such as “People don’t change. If anything, you get more set in your ways as you get older, not less.” In reality, people do change. As a mother, Dr Victoria West should know this better than anybody! It takes courage to change, change should be embraced in the world. Dr Victoria West was a weak character with an even weaker outlook to life.

I would not recommend this novel to anybody, it was frustrating and had no real climax. This was a disappointment from Denssen, as her work had always been enjoyable for me.

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  1. You’ve expressed your dismay at the predictability of the novel well, and with conviction. What it needs now (should you wish to go ahead with it as a reading journal text – as it’s always difficult to writing meaningful things about something you find to be ultimately quite meaningless) is some more detailed exploration of this – in the form, I suppose, of banal quotations that support your position.

    Then you’ll need to talk about how this predictable treatment differs from how you believe life works, and preferably do this by talking from experience. Quote from your own experience and that of those you know to demonstrate your view on the theme of the text – like “people don’t change” – again an arguable position if there ever was one.

    Remember to check the outline of the project to make sure you’re covering all the bases here:


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