Along for the Ride
By Sarah Dessen
Viking, 2009. 383 pgs. Teen fiction
After graduating high school, Auden goes to stay with her father, stepmother ,and new half-sister. While there, she develops a friendship with Eli, a fellow insomniac, as they find ways to pass the night. Finding out that Auden, whose parents are academics, has pretty much missed out on a normal childhood, Eli encourages her to try things she's never done. All seems to be going well with their quest until a family struggle brings up all Auden's unresolved issues from her parents' divorce and she pulls back from Eli and retreats to the safety of books and academia.
When this book first came out in 2009, I read and loved it; I gave it a rave review on my library's book blog. However, this time around, I listened to it, and I loathed the narrator's reading of it. There were so many times when she got the rhythm of sentences wrong, pausing at places that changed the meaning of or disrupted the flow of the sentences. It was highly irritating. And, as the same time, perhaps because I was cranky as I was listening to the narrator butcher a book I'd previously enjoyed, I started getting irritated by other things--like, the underage drinking with absolutely no hint of a consequence, the fact that Auden hooks up with Eli's brother (before she and Eli meet) and there's absolutely no effect on their friendship and blossoming relationship because of it, and how completely impossible Auden's parents are. However, these things didn't bother me in my previous reading, so why now? Well, I started another of Dessen's books (This Lullaby), which again, I had previously liked and now couldn't get into, and I think perhaps it's not so much Dessen's books personally as that I've reached a saturation point in my reading. I'm TIRED of reading about teens drinking and sleeping around and horrible parents, etc. Are these things realistic? YES. Are some books about these topics necessary? Of course. However, there are also teens who are still virgins and not bemoaning the fact, there are teens who have no desire to drink or use drugs, and there are functional, happy families out there, I personally would really like some books that show that. I don't want June Cleaver or whatever, but I want more balance. I think it's possible to write great books that really reach teens that deal with serious issues and are well-written that don't have all this stuff in it...Joan Bauer's books come to mind, actually. So, basically, I think that just as I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO tired of vampires and all things supernatural, I'm tired of books about parents who are so selfish, stupid, etc. and teens who are drinking, sleeping around, etc., and I want more balance in what's being published. Please, please, publishers and authors:Give me something different.
End tangent. Back to the book...I don't really know what to rate it. Before, I would have given it five stars, but after listening to it, I would only give it a three. So I guess I'll average it and give it a four...but unhappily so.
Also, another note to producers of audiobooks: Shorter tracks, please. Ten minutes per track is RIDICULOUS! Don't go over five minutes, I say.