Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Reasons for reading: Sarah Dessen's great!; book starting with A for the Four Month Challenge
Description: "It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live. A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend."
First lines: "The e-mails always began the same way. Hi, Auden!! It was the extra exclamation point that got me."
My thoughts: I've been going through some serious not-sleeping myself lately, so I could relate to Auden. Although I don't have the luxury of being able to sleep during the day, sadly! Ah, teenage summers... :-)
It was quite wonderful to see academic, no-nonsense Auden learning the basics of having a social life - friends, girliness, the importance of having fun, and even what it's like to have an actual boyfriend. Eli seems like a bit of a cold jerk at first, but once his tragedy is revealed and he comes out of his shell with Auden, he's another great Dessen guy. I enjoyed Auden's (at first very unwilling) growing relationship with her step-mother and her love for her newborn baby sister. Auden's relationship with her parents - her demanding, academic, seemingly "cold bitch" of a mother and her selfish ass, novelist father - changes appropriately as she realizes she doesn't have to be like either one of them. She learns that sometimes people change and sometimes they don't, but you can change yourself.
The verdict: Yet another winner from Sarah Dessen.