Along for the Ride Summary

Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride

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Along for the Ride Summary

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Along for the Ride (2009), a young adult novel by Sarah Dessen, is about Auden West, a young girl who never sleeps at night because of her mother and step-father’s continuous fighting throughout her high school career. This causes her to miss out on a lot of activities and experiences that many kids have, such as riding a bike. By her final year in high school, Auden, about to graduate, has been accepted into Defriese University. She isn’t sure how to spend the upcoming summer before she moves away. She receives a package in the mail from her brother, Hollis. He is touring Europe, and she decides to take up her father’s offer of spending the summer with him and his new family. He now lives in the beach town of Colby, and Auden arrives hopeful that she will finally get some time to spend with her father. But this seems unlikely after Auden realizes her father is spending all of his time working on a new novel.

One night, Auden goes down to the Tip, a stretch of beach that is known for being a teenage hang out spot. She meets Jake, a boy that she eventually ends up hooking up with. Auden feels guilty about it the next morning, though, and decides to leave Colby for home. Early that morning, Auden helps her stepmother, Heidi, get some rest by watching her daughter, Thisbe. Auden also helps Heidi run an errand for Heidi’s business, a boutique called Clementine’s.

Once at the boutique, Auden meets one of Heidi’s employees, Maggie. Leah and Esther, friends of Maggie’s, walk into the store. While there, Leah and Esther tell Maggie that Auden is the one who hooked up with Jake, Maggie’s ex-boyfriend whom she is still in love with. Auden tries to defend herself by saying that she has no feelings for Jake and no relationship.

The next day, the family goes down to the Last Chance for dinner. Auden’s father is irritated at being pulled away from his book and becomes even more so when Heidi has to stop off at the boutique on the way there. While they are waiting for Heidi at the restaurant, Auden’s father tells her to take Thisbe, who is making a fuss, outside. Auden goes, and a young man named Eli appears, helping to calm Thisbe down. When Heidi arrives, she thanks Eli, who leaves. Heidi tells Auden that Eli runs a bike shop nearby her boutique, and he has a little brother around Auden’s age, named Jake. Auden realizes the connection instantly.

At dinner, the two adults get into an argument, which remains unfinished so that the family can finish their dinner, only to be inevitably brought up again at home. Auden knows the drill very well at this point and doesn’t return home until two hours later, when the fight has reached its zenith. Auden stays out front on the porch and hears her father admit he only wanted Auden to visit to help out with Thisbe. Auden leaves again feeling conflicted about Heidi, who had defended her. When she finally does return home, Auden works all night to fix Heidi’s mess of a financial situation. Heidi offers her a job organizing the store’s books, and Auden accepts after a biting remark from her father.

At work, Auden is treated well by the other employees, and after a few days, Auden’s mother comes down to visit. Auden’s mother is critical of the boutique, as well as of Heidi, for the stereotype that it seems to thrust upon women. Auden speaks up to defend Heidi, and Auden’s mother says that Auden has changed. After this, the girls at the store invite Auden to a party, where she runs into Eli again. They learn that they both have nocturnal habits, and keep running into each other. Auden and Eli do things together that Auden had never experienced, such as bowling, and eventually kiss for the first time at a bar. One day, Auden asks Maggie to help her learn how to ride a bike, and Maggie agrees.

Jason, Auden’s ex prom-date, arrives one day. Auden decides to break off her friendship with Eli because she feels uncomfortable with how much she is changing. Jason asks her to go to the Beach Bask with him, and Auden accepts, but when the day comes, Jason turns her down again. Auden runs back to Eli and asks him to go with her, but he rejects her. Later, they run into each other again and makeup, go to the bash together and have a great time. Auden and Eli end up becoming a couple again at the end of the novel.