A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Along for the Ride offers a realistic portrayal of teen life that includes drinking, romance, and some non-graphic sex. Although these teens are just out of high school, there's a lot of beer drinking done by all. Main character Auden's parents divorce after much fighting; her mother is notorious for drinking and seducing her grad students. But all of the female characters are very intelligent, and there's an underlying theme that people can change for the better.
What's the story?
Gifted but lonely teen Auden tries to recreate a childhood lost to a dysfunctional family by hanging out with other teens at the beach before they all head off to college in the fall. Her new gang is into BMX, but also into partying. She makes her first real friends, falls in love, and discovers girls/women can be feminine and smart, all for the first time. She also manages to overcome very bad parenting, and forges new relationships with her dysfunctional mother, her absent father, and her new stepmother.
Is it any good?
ALONG FOR THE RIDE has a pretty PG romance, lessons about self-acceptance and accepting others, and asks if people can change. Too many subplots slow things down a bit, and teen readers may lose interest in the stepmom/new baby storyline. But they'll stay hooked as Dessen once again explores themes of abusive parents, the power of friendship, and teens who run away from their problems.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether people can really change. What does it take to make Auden change?
If you've read other Sarah Desssen books, how do you think this one compares? Why do you think her books are so popular?
What other books you've read or movies you've seen portary teens in a realistic way?
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