Along for the Ride - Sarah Dessen Auden's insomnia started when she stayed up late to catch her parents fighting. It's now a habitual nightly routine to forgo sleep and get in some extra study time for this uber smart, super responsible high school graduate. In the summer before college, Auden makes a decision to visit her father, his new young wife, and her new baby sister before heading off to college to continue her life of academic success. Auden's brilliant, successful mother isn't too sure about sending Auden off to a beach town to live with her new pink loving, lip gloss wearing stepmother.Auden soon settles into a new routine, helping with the baby while her father pretends to be too busy to deal with either his daughters or his wife. Her nights are filled with roaming the seaside town and calming a colicky baby. Her days are filled with reading her textbooks for the upcoming semester and doing the bookkeeping for her stepmom's boutique. When Auden begins to interact with the local teens, things don't go so well. She knows that she's different from most kids her age, but she's so used to being studious and "holier than thou", and she can't seem to loosen up...or stop sticking up her nose at the antics of her seemingly flighty, materialistic peers. But she wants to. She wants to find out what more there is to life than studying and feeling intellectually superior. Auden wants the best of times.And she begins to find her own brand of good times with local bike shop manager Eli. He's not like the other kids. There's a depth to Eli, a quiet reserve, that seems to mesh with Auden's introverted personality. They can accompany each other's silence and yet fill each other's loneliness with companionship. Eventually, they really start to open up to each other. Eli reveals more of his tragic past, and Auden finally feels a strong bond with someone. Problem is, Auden can't seem to just let go, to move on from her difficult past and accept things as they come. Especially when it's apparent that her family won't let the past rest either.I tend to read older YA, but Sarah Dessen is one of the few YA authors that really speaks to me. There's a good reason for her success as an author. She writes of morality without being preachy, she speaks in metaphors without being cheesy. In a literary world that accepts immoral behavior and clamors for more, Dessen is an author that I would feel comfortable allowing kids of any age read, and yet she holds my interest as well. She really is a master of her genre. She tugs on your heart and makes you want to be a better person, make good, responsible decisions, and yet still manages to add innocent young love and the importance of family into each of her books.