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Literature / Along for the Ride

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Along for the Ride is a 2009 young adult novel by Sarah Dessen.

Auden West, the daughter of professors, never had a chance to be a real kid— she doesn't even know how to ride a bike. Left an insomniac after her parents' constant fighting and subsequent divorce, she spends the nocturnal hours driving around her hometown and drinking diner coffee. The summer before college, she takes her father up on his offer to visit him, his new wife Heidi, and their infant daughter in the small beach town of Colby. Auden then meets fellow insomniac Eli, who works at the bike store next to Heidi's boutique. Still adrift after a tragedy of his own, Eli becomes Auden's tour guide to Colby after dark, and they begin to grow closer.


This novel contains examples of:

  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • Even though she is only a baby, Auden's sister Thisbe.
    • Eli's brother Jake.
  • Anti-Hero: Auden.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Some between Auden and Eli.
  • Beta Couple:
    • Hollis and Lauren.
    • Heidi and Auden's dad could also count.
  • Brainy Brunette: Auden. This runs in her family, apparently.
  • Camera Fiend: Adam, partly because he was one of exactly two people on the yearbook staff and thus took most of the pictures.
  • Character Overlap: Jason Talbot previously appeared in The Truth About Forever.
    • Isabel and Morgan from Keeping the Moon are friends of Heidi.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Belissa Norwood. The strange thing is, she's the one who broke up with Eli.
  • Cloudcuckoo Lander: Clyde.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Baby sister Thisbe.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Eli. His best friend died in a car crash, and Eli was driving. The accident scarred his arms and caused him to quit bike racing.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Auden.
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  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Auden and Esther.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Auden thinks "Penelope" is one.
  • Everyone Can See It: This trope appears, but interestingly, people seem wary of the potential relationship because of what Eli has already been through.
  • Fiery Redhead: Leah.
  • Genki Girl: Maggie.
  • Hidden Depths: Auden initially dismisses Maggie and Heidi as stereotypical girly girls, but they both have a lot more to them. Maggie is interested in bike riding, good at economics, and is smart enough to be attending the same school as Auden. Heidi was previously a more cutthroat businesswoman with plans to open a boutique in New York, but her mother's death and her relationship with Auden's father ended up keeping her in Colby.
  • Hot Teacher: Auden's mother teaches at a university and has several students drooling over her.
  • Insufferable Genius:
    • Jason Talbot.
    • Auden, at least at first.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Auden.
  • Manchild: Auden's father has definite shades; he is very selfish and he sulks and pouts if he doesn't get his own way, and he often pushes off responsibility for Thisbe onto Auden, despite Auden only being a teenager and supposed to be on vacation.
  • May–December Romance: Downplayed with Auden's father and Heidi. Heidi is twenty-six, and while Auden's father isn't given a definitive age, Auden mentions that her own mother was twenty-six when she had Hollis. She also mentions that her parents came to their current city out of grad school, which presumably puts them at roughly the same age, making her father a lot older than Heidi.
  • Not Good with People: Auden, at least at first.
  • No Social Skills: Auden, at least at first. She actually goes to answer the question, "What kind of name is that?"
  • Parent with New Paramour: Auden's father has recently remarried and has just had a new child at the beginning of the novel.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
    • Quiet, loner Auden is pretty much the exact opposite of her brother Hollis.
    • Eli and Jake, one being quiet and thoughtful and the other...not.
  • Spoiled Brat: Eli's younger brother Jake. Eli even lampshades it.
  • Those Two Guys: Leah and Esther.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Leah, Esther and Maggie. Weirdly, it's subverted in the next Colby novel, The Moon and More, in which Esther and Maggie both appear but Leah doesn't.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Auden and Maggie.
  • Too Clever by Half: Auden.
  • Too Much Information: Heidi, frequently.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Eli.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Auden's free-spirited, irresponsible brother Hollis falls for serious, studious Lauren.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Inverted; Auden goes to visit her dad for the summer.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: The protagonist's father pretentiously names his kids after obscure references. If people understand the references, he considers them worthy enough to associate with. As a result his kids are named Hollis, Auden, and Thisbe.


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