Along for the Ride

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
Along for the Ride Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Teen grows beyond dysfunctional family in romantic outing.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 27 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some details of bike and BMX riding.

Positive Messages

The main character, Auden, and other secondary characters are smart and goal-oriented. Most of the boys are sweet and not sexist. There's an underlying theme of girls enjoying fashion, expressing individuality, and having goals; also, girls are presented as athletic as boys. Auden and her stepmother are financially savvy and like business. Most of the teens are headed for college.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Male protagonist Eli has a good parental relationship, takes responsibility, and shows resiliency in dealing with his friend’s death. He and Auden form a positive romantic relationship based on friendship and respect. Auden's stepmother is also a strong, smart young businesswoman who has pursued her own dreams. However, Auden's parents are selfish, immature, jealous, and self-indulgent. Auden's mother drinks and has affairs with grad students and treats Auden with contempt. Auden's brother is immature and dependent on his parents; he also treats women as objects. Auden makes some bad choices; she runs away from problems, is judgmental, and often selfish.


An ex-girlfriend of Auden's new crush threatens to beat her up.


Auden hooks up with a guy the first night they meet, makes out, and takes her shirt and bra off. Later, there's a non-graphic recollection of losing her virginity with Eli. References to Auden's mother seducing and sleeping with grad students. Auden's father starts dating before his divorce; his girlfriend then becomes pregnant before they marry.


Brief occasional use of "Jesus," "s--t," "hell," "bitch," "sucked," "pissed."


Snack foods such as Pringles, Twizzlers.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

All the teens (mostly 18-year-olds) drink almost nightly at keggers, parties, and clubs, with no consequences. Adults, mostly Auden’s mother, drink frequently; one offers Auden wine.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3, 3, and 15-year-old Written bySummerBells February 24, 2010
I've literally read this book at least ten times, and I have never recalled at all that Auden loses her virginity to Eli, that is completely false informat... Continue reading
Adult Written byvictorianmermaid August 6, 2015

This is one of my favorite books

This is one of the books that really got into reading. It does have some sensitive subjects, like underage drinking, sexual activity, and divorce. but otherwise... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLucky7Bluue June 9, 2012

Making things straight here.

Marvellous! And, no, Auden did not, NEVER did loses her virginity to Eli. All what happened was Auden cried infront of Eli after hearing her dad and Heidi fight... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byemm680 May 3, 2012

Great book, but the CSM review is wrong.

I love this book, read it like 4 times.Little bit of drinking but nothing major. Auden Did Not loose her virginity to Eli, she fell asleep on a couch with him(t... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love love stories and smart girls

Themes & Topics

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