ALONG FOR THE RIDE
Smart, challenging and funny are just a few adjectives that describe Dessen's latest. Auden is a terrific heroine who wants one last teenage hurrah before college. Rife with family drama (e.g., Auden's realistically frustrating father) but offset by comedic moments, Dessen's novel is another page-turning winner!
On a whim, Auden decides to go live with her father's new family on the beach. Now is the time to break free from her mother's pragmatic eye and enjoy her youth. But despite the perfect summer weather, she must live with her newborn half-sister's nonstop colicky crying, her father's absentee parenting and her stepmother quietly breaking down with exhaustion.
Making the summer more bearable is Eli, a mysterious bike rider who's always around just when Auden most needs him. Her part-time bookkeeping job at stepmom Heidi's clothing shop isn't as soul sucking as she expected it to be, and her older brother's unexpected return home does its part to make the summer a memorable one. (VIKING, Jun., 400 pp., $19.99, ISBN: 9780670011940, HC, 12 and up)