Monday, October 12, 2009

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride follows a girl named Auden who is an over achieving insomniac who doesn’t know how to let loose and have fun and is unable to connect with people. Even before her parent’s divorce, she was considered to be the “little adult”; opposite of her brother Hollis who has been traveling in Europe for the last two years. Therefore, Auden has missed out on having a childhood and being a teenager in order to focus her energy on academics to please her demanding intellectual mother.

After graduation, Auden decides to spend the summer with her father, stepmother Heidi, and her new baby sister in the beach town of Colby. Auden packs books so she can study ahead for the upcoming semester of her freshman year in college. When she arrives in Colby, everything doesn’t go according to plan. Her father is immersed in writing his book, while Heidi adjusts to motherhood. On the first night, Auden gets involved with a boy who she finds out the next day is the ex-boyfriend of Maggie who works at Heidi’s boutique. Auden ends up working at the shop, and is introduced to a whole new world-a world of girls.

First, Auden explores Colby’s nightlife alone until she meets Eli who is a fellow insomniac who is dealing with his past. Together they explore the town. Eli helps Auden to rediscover what she has missed out on during the past eighteen years. Auden gains new friends even with Maggie. She learns that there is more to Maggie than being a girly girl. As Auden spends more time with Heidi, she sees that she is not what her mother perceived her to be-a waste of space.

Through Auden’s transformation, she learns how to connect with people and develop new friendships. She also learns not judge people at first glance like her mother. Along for the Ride is a well written story which deals with personal transformation and relationships between family, friends, and romance. Sarah Dessen brings all of the characters to life. Her descriptions make the reader feel like they are in the middle of the action with Auden. Sarah Dessen fans will notice a few familiar faces from earlier novels.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Seventeen year old Macy Queen has a long hot summer to look fowar5d to when her boyfriend Jason goes off to Brain Camp. She takes over his job at the library and in her spare time, she plans to study for the SAT’s. Meanwhile, she silently grieves over her father’s death.

Life changes when Macy meets the chaotic Wish Catering Crew at her mother’s party. One night after Jason breaks up with Macy via email, she decides to go for a ride and follows the Wish Catering van. Before long, Macy decides to work for them, while keeping her job at the library. Delia, Monica, Kristy, and Wes help Macy to look at life in a completely different way.

Silently Grieving

Macy’s father died over a year and a half ago. Macy holds on to her father’s memories by storing his EZ Products that he use to order. Macy gave up the one thing that she loved and connected her to her father- running. One night, she opens up to Wes about her father’s death. Before that night, Macy has not expressed her feelings about father’s death, and what happened the morning he died. Her mother throws herself into her work, which doesn’t allow much time for anything else. Her sister Caroline makes plans to renovate the family beach house. However, this is too much for Macy and her mother to handle.

Macy Changes

In the first few chapters, readers may view Macy as boring. Macy’s routine started out as follows; go to work at the library, come home and eat dinner, check her email, and prepare her clothes for the next day. Soon, Macy breaks the routine when she starts hanging out with her new friends. At first, she resists but later changes her mind. Macy decides to quit her job at the library and work for Wish full time. Her mother does not like the new changes she sees and no longer wants Macy to hanging out with her new friends. She keeps Macy under her thumb by making her quit her job with Wish and having her work at her office. She also only allows Macy to do acceptable activities. It takes awhile to realize that these changes are for Macy’s own good.

Readers should be able to take something away from this novel, especially if they have lost a loved one in death. The Wish Catering Crew provided comic relief as they help Macy to put things into prospective and move forward with her life.

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Seventeen-year-old Ruby has been living alone in the yellow house for sometime after her mother disappears for the last time. She plans to stay there until she turns 18 when she could finally be on her own legally. “Ruby where is your mother?” When the social worker asks this question, Ruby realizes that the game is up and she can’t talk her way out of the situation when the social worker reads the report.

She is unexpectedly reunited with her sister Cora, whom she has not seen in ten years. Her life suddenly changes when she moves in with Cora and her wealthy entrepreneur husband Jamie. Now Ruby lives in a luxurious house, attends private school, has new clothes and even a chance at a future. However, Ruby not only struggles to adjust to her new life, she also has to learn how to trust people. She is wary, unable to be grateful, and struggles to allow people to get close to her. She has been accustomed to taking care of herself and taking care of her mother when she was around. As Ruby struggles to fit in, she meets Nate, a genuine popular boy next door who understands her because he is hiding a secret of his own.

Facing the Ugly Truth

As Ruby struggles to adjust to her new life, she tries to hold on to a piece of her old life-her friends. First, she learns the truth about why her mother moved around a lot and the real reason why she gave out fake addresses. Ruby believed that Cora cut her and mother out of her life. However, their mother was the one who made it impossible for Cora to contact Ruby. Disturbed by this information, Ruby decides to skip school. Ruby learns the hard way who her real friend are. She visits her boyfriend Marshall. When she gets there, she discovers her best friend Peyton with him. Afterwards, Ruby rushes out and gets into a confrontation with Peyton. Ruby returns to the woods and drinks and uses drugs in order to ease her pain. When she wakes up, she finds herself in Nate’s car. She later learns that she was left alone in the woods. Ruby learns this valuable lesson; Real friends don’t leave you alone in the woods, they are the ones who take you out.

Sarah Dessen’s novels are based on real life issues that young adults experience. Readers will laugh, cry, and will be in suspense as they watch Ruby’s heart wrenching story unfold. Dessen also deals with such themes as the meaning of real friendship and family.