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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Along for the Ride - Sarah Dessen

OK, I'm back for my review, although I'm still mulling this one over.

If you've ever seen my READ poster outside the library, you know I'm a Sarah Dessen fan. And if you've ever heard me talk about books (which is basically anyone who's ever heard me talk) you know that character is my number one thing in writing, then plot. But give me good characters, and even with a mediocre plot, I'll probably still like it. And you may also know if you've read my reviews or seen my reading list, I'm a sucker for a good romance.

So here's the thing with Sarah Dessen: she's a queen of all three. Her characters are always full of depth, always learning about themselves, always experiencing new things. Her plots are always interesting and keep things moving. And there's always a romance. Of course there's not always a sa-woon (bonus points for you if you get this reference), but it always comes around. And I just thought of this - Sarah's main characters are always girls, but the boy really becomes a main character in her stories as well, and his voice seems as equally authentic as the girl's. I wonder if it's any more difficult for her to write the boy's voice than the girl's, seeing how she's a girl and all.

In this novel, the perfect and very grown-up Auden is sort of waiting around to go to college, a bit at a loss and feeling a little antsy. She decides she needs a change of pace, so she packs up and goes to stay for the summer with her father, her step-mother Heidi, and her new baby sister, Thisbe. She's not really that excited about going there - she doesn't like Heidi much, and she's not very interested in the baby, but she's hoping this will be a chance to connect with her father, and at least it's something to do.

As with all Dessens' novels, this is a journey of self-discovery for Auden, who although she hadn't seemingly noticed, basically missed out on being a child. It is Eli who teaches her it's never too late, but it's a wide variety of characters in the novel who teach her how to get back what she's missed. Strong friendships are formed with girls as well as boys. I really like this about Dessen's novels; the friendships with girls are always equally, if not more, important than those with boys. Sometimes it seems like when a girl meets a boy in real life, she forgets her girlfriends, and we all need our girlfriends. Absolutely.

I flew through this novel in one evening, but now I want to read it again, a little slower this time, to savor the strong writing, the strong characters, the lessons. Hmmm. Maybe I'll make a wordle of fun Sarah Dessen-isms. That would be way cool!

This book will be available at the WOMS library as soon as my first shipment comes in :) See you there to check it out!

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