Let's just face facts here: I like some "realistic teen fiction", but, honestly, the majority of it just doesn't appeal to me. The main offenders tend to be the stereotypical characters, simplistic plots, and weird drama, that really just don't fit into reality, and therefore, shouldn't belong in this branch of YA reading. It just strikes me that going through the same sort of books, where characters just barely change names and hair colors, is pretty unexciting, and kind of a waste of my valuable reading time. I'm rarely surprised by these sorts of novels, and therefore, don't spend a lot of time thinking about them.
This is why I read books by Sarah Dessen. While she shares a library shelf with these aforementioned bores, she manages to make her heroines relatable, funny, and endearing, by steering clear of the regular pitfalls of "the pretty, damsel-in-distress, airhead" and "smart, and therefore ugly, nerdgirl" types. And when it comes to plotlines, she doesn't just craft a regular ride around the park, following an easy-to-traverse path, filled with varying potholes and speed bumps of conflict, but instead, crafts entire scenarios that are special, and different enough to prove their title of "reality".
No one lives in plain, old Regularsville, U.S.A. No main love interest would prove himself worthy with just an average smile and cheerful wave of his hand. Everything in her books has a depth to it. Everything has a backstory, which I find very important. There's reasoning, and thought, to it all, and that glue binds the whole of the unique scenario she's set up, into a cohesive miniverse. It makes her characters relatable, and her situations believable. She gives her "realistic teen fiction" an appropriate reality in which to exist. That's why I love to read her books.
Along for the Ride would definitely not disappoint fans of her other material. While it doesn't include the emotional impact I felt from some of her other recent work, like Lock and Key and Just Listen, she still proves to me that there are some YA books of this genre that are worth looking out for. Thanks, Sarah, for the entertaining reading.
(Also, I've got What Happened to Goodbye lined up, with plans to read it before summer's end. )