I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride


Day 14) N is for Name: Choose a book with a character that shares your first or last Name

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Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

So I know I discussed this book back when I talked about being a fan of Sarah Dessen, but I am bringing it back as it contains one of my names. Yes, one of these characters has my first, middle, or last name. Which one? I’m not saying.

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Another reason why I picked this book was because the main character, Auden, took a long time to like her name. She is named after the poet W. H. Auden, and not only do most not know who she is named after, it isn’t really a girl’s name. I know what it is like to not like your name, but at least she was named after a poet; my namesake created lots of teasing growing up. And her name means “old friend”, mine is not pretty.

I don't like it 11

I started reading Sarah Dessen back in middle school. This was the last book I read while in my teendom, and I think it is one of her best books and the last truly great one. I didn’t really care for Whatever Happened to Good-bye or The Moon and More, and didn’t even bother to read the next one she came out with. I don’t know if I am too old or if her work isn’t as good as it used to be.

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So Auden West never had a real childhood. Her parents are professors, and her brother Hollis (meaning holly tree) had colic as a baby.

Not good

After him, they expected Auden to be a mini adult, no longer wanting to be “parents”. Hollis had fun and charmed his way through life, going abroad and mooching off his family as he continues to play.

Favorite Lydia Bennet

Auden had to be the serious child: no fun, no play, nothing but academics. This caused her to grow to be a little anti-social as she just couldn’t relate to others.

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She also moved around a lot as no school was seen as right for her parents. This caused her to also make no real connections, as how can you become friends when you are only there for a second.

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 Auden also has insomnia.

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After Hollis left, things got ugly in the house. Her mom came and won awards, great articles, a chair, etc; while her husband went down. They never liked fighting around Auden, so they would wait until she went to sleep. Auden stopped going to sleep, hoping that would keep them from fighting.

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This worked for a while, but eventually they just started fighting again.

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They divorced, her father remarried, and immediately got his new wife pregnant. Auden feels replaced in one life and nothing in her mother’s who spends all her time working or with her graduate students.

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Mostly Auden spends all her free time at an all night diner and reads, drinking coffee.

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Or booth in this case.

She will be heading off to a top college in the summer and has been studying the classes her mother picked out for her.

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Her stepmother, Heidi (meaning noble and kind), recently had their baby, Thisbe (meaning lover of Pyramus) Caroline West, and invites Auden to come out to the beach where they live and spend time there this summer. Heidi always invites Auden and Auden always makes an excuse…

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but this time things change. She just can’t stand another summer of not living.

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Auden decides to take up Heidi’s offer and heads out to the beach in hopes to spend time with her dad and not sure what will happen.

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What she finds is nothing she would have expected. The perfectly coiffed Heidi is a mess, the baby always cries from colic, and while she loves her dad, his selfishness makes her not like him most of the time as all he can do is focus on is his book.

Men?

Men

Auden is asked out by a local boy and heads down to a beach party, a huge mistake as he was a total jerk.

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Auden still has issues sleeping, so she spends her time driving, at a horrible diner, or reading at home. But Thisbe won’t stop crying, so one night she ends up taking her to the boardwalk, walking her up and down.

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There she sees a boy on his bike, doing all kinds of jumps and such, hypnotized by his movements. He spots her watching and approaches her, looking at the baby. Auden explains that it has been a long night, and he agrees with aren’t they all.

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Auden ends up helping Heidi out when there isn’t enough money to cover the UPS delivery at her shop, Clementine’s. The main girl is Maggie (meaning pearl) who turns out to be the girlfriend of the guy she hooked up with the night before.

big mistake

Maggie and her friends are upset when they realize that Auden is the girl, but they do come to the conclusion that Auden didn’t know anything, and that Maggie is better off without her loser boyfriend who is cheating on her.

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Things are not very happy in the new West family. Auden’s father and Heidi are fighting constantly, just trade a few words out and it is like living back with mom and dad.

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They are supposed to be having a family dinner, but that is a wash. Thisbe starts crying and Auden takes her out of there. As she is trying to get her to stop she is approached by the same boy from the other night, and he is able to calm the baby.

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Heidi knows him, and introduces him to Auden. He is Eli (most common meaning, my God is Yahweh), who has a younger brother, Jake (supplanter). That Jake was the same guy that was dating Maggie and messing with Auden. Of all the people to mess with.

Just My Luck!

Just My Luck!

Later that night Auden overhears Heidi and her father arguing. Heidi wants him to help her out more around the house, while her father thinks that Auden should just do free babysitting.

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Hurt that Heidi defends her while her father wants to use her, Auden needs something to do and spots Heidi’s accounts she was trying to balance. Auden stays up all night using her anger to work out the issue.

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Heidi is amazed at Auden’s work and instantly offers her a job working the books. Her father tries a power play chastising Heidi for using Auden, but as Auden heard their conversation the night before, she becomes angry and takes the employment, even though it means working with the girl who’s boyfriend she was with.

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Auden grows to really like working at the store. She doesn’t spend a lot of time with Maggie or her friends (the other workers), so that that isn’t as awkward as she thought it would be. One night she becomes bored and heads over to the skate park where everyone hangs out.

Say What

There she runs into Eli, who asks her about riding a bike. Auden is concrete that she knows how to ride a bike, but does she really? She didn’t really have a childhood.

Thinking Hmm

One day her mother visits and just rips on everything; Heidi, her dad, the clothes Auden is wearing, the store, the beach, the restaurants, etc. When Auden defends Heidi as not being a ditz but a pretty astute businesswoman, her mother is rather cruel to Auden, putting her in her dumb category because she no longer is in one hundred percent agreement with her.

ouch Hermione

After work, Auden still hurt, goes off to get a coffee from the nearby shop. Maggie goes after her as she knows what it is like having a difficult mother. She sits with Auden and just helps by being there.

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She ends up going out with the girls, not really expecting anything but just wanting some company.

Girls night!

Girls night!

They head to the Gas/Gro where they pick up some snacks, just in case. After all you never know what the night will hold.

Chocolate makes everything better

Afterwards they head to a party at Belissa’s (lovely one) house, the daughter of the local bakers. They send Auden to get beers, but as she has never partied before she cannot get the keg to work.

I don't know what to do

Eli comes up behind her and tries to help her out. They joke around having fun, but Maggie quickly comes in and tries to get her Auden of there.

Run Away

Before they can get free they run into Belissa and almost get their butts kicked as she is Eli’s ex, yet still thinks they are together. Auden has never dealt with angry exes so she doesn’t have the sane reaction.

Them's fighting words!

Them’s fighting words!

The girls interrogate her about Eli, when they started hanging out, and Auden shares that they talked ever since she saw him on his bike.

OMG gasp

The girls are shocked and reveal Eli’s sad backstory.

Eli and Abel (breath) were the very best of friends, doing everything together. They did competitive biking and were extremely good, so good they had sponsors and everything. Eli was given a scholarship for it to the University and deferred to keep riding. Then one day they were coming back from a competition and the two were in an accident. A drunk driver went through a four way stop and Abel was killed.

After that Eli gave up everything and doesn’t do much as he is grieving.

aw cry

Maggie takes Auden back to the shop, and Auden grabs a coffee before she decides to head out. But then she changes her mind as she sees a light on in the bike shop and takes a chance.

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Eli is there and realizes they told her everything. He tells her he used to like hanging out with her because she never felt sorry for him or gave him a pity look.

Stop stop it now!

Auden bypasses that and says she is angry because he left her alone to fight his ex. As Eli doesn’t like to sleep either, they end up spending the night together as they visit the laundromat/coffee shop, the Park Mart warehouse store, etc.

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Eli discover that therre are a lot of of things she missed out on her childhood and decides they need to go on a quest to help her. Food fights, “high school” parties, delivering newspapers, going to a club, kickball, etc.

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Auden finds herself finally allowing her to open up to another person, something she hasn’t been able to do since the dissolution of her parents’ marriage.

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But will this work out or just be a summer romance? Will Auden finally let someone into her heart, or become too afraid she lets it go?

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I loved this book so much!

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First of all Maggie is such an amazing character. She shows how you don’t have to label yourself but be whatever you want. Sporty? Pretty? Intelligent? You can be it all.

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She’s fun, sweet, and the best friend you could ever have.

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And Eli. Eli has gone through so much and is such a strong character. He teaches Auden it is okay to grow up and still have childish parts to her, no matter how old you are.

He makes her Rice Krispie treats when she is sad and crying.

How sweet!

How sweet!

When she freaks out and tries to break it off, he just takes it and when she overcomes her commitment-phobia, he is there waiting.

swoon dreamy

He is smart, talented, compassionate, sweet, adorable- and I wish he was real as he is just perfect.

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December 2014

The only flaw I would say this book has is that Eli never really deals with his grief, but buries it in another relationship which is not the right way to do. After working with grieving people, Dessen didn’t quite handle that issue correctly.

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But the rest of the book was fantastic and it is something I read over and over again.

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Now each Sarah Dessen novel connects to all the others, and I’ve listed said connections with Along for the Ride, AFTR.

That Summer:
Haven’s family spends a whole summer at a beach just like Auden does.

Someone Like You:
In Someone Like You, Scarlett and Haley went to Jackson High. Auden went there for a while in AFTR.

Keeping the Moon
Auden goes to visit her Dad and Stepmom in Colby. In Keeping the Moon, Colby is where Colie visited for the entire summer.
Auden eats at Last Chance where Colie worked at in Keeping the Moon.
The cashier that takes Auden’s order at Last Chance is a dark haired girl with a lip ring. Colie is dark-haired girl with a lip ring.
Heidi, Auden’s stepmom, two best friends are Morgan and Isabelle. Morgan and Isabelle are Colie’s next door neighbors in Keeping the Moon.
Auden passes a women with long hair in an orange jumpsuit on a bicycle. This is Mira, Colie’s aunt.

Dreamland:
Caitlin went to Jackson High. Auden goes to Jackson High for a bit in AFTR.
Rogerson Biscoe goes to Perkins Day. Auden goes to Perkins Day for a bit as well.
In Dreamland, Caitlan’s Dad,Boo, and Stewart teach at U. That is the same university where Auden mom teaches as well.
Cass starts reading about Buddhism. In AFTR, Auden is reading about it too.

This Lullaby:
Auden’s mom teaches at the U, the same university where Lissa is going to college.

The Truth About Forever:
Macy went to Jackson High. Auden went there for a while in AFTR.
Macy’s ex-boyfriend Jason Talbot was supposed to be Auden’s date for the prom, but he cancels last minute. He is also her date in the prom boardwalk party Heidi throws, but cancels last minute once again.
Macy and Wes are always going to World of Waffles. In AFTR, that is where Maggie, Leah, and Esther go when Esther’s car breaks down.
Jason’s parents are professors just like Auden’s parents.

Just Listen:
Annabelle went to Jackson High. Auden went there for a while inAFTR.
Will Cash, Sophie’s boyfriend, the guy who rapes Annabelle goes to Perkins Day. Auden goes to Perkins Day for a bit in AFTR.
A girl named Esther emcees the poetry and other readings at the coffee shop, Jump Java. Whitney goes her to read her memoir. In Along for the Ride, Auden’s friend Esther, loves to go to coffee shops to hear readings.

Lock and Key:
Ruby dates Nate Cross. Auden talks about awkwardly flirting with him in AFTR
Ruby’s brother-in-law created the website Ume.com. In AFTR Auden goes on it.
Ruby went to Jackson High for a while. Auden went there for a while in AFTR
Ruby goes to Perkins Day. Auden goes to Perkins Day for a bit in AFTR.
Ruby wears a necklace with a key on it. Harriet makes a ton of these to sell at her kiosk in the mall. In AFTR, Heidi sells the necklaces at her shop Clementine’s.
Ruby, Gervais, and Nate attend U. Cora and Jamie used to go to U. Auden’s mom is a professor at U.
Ruby applies for Defriese but doesn’t get in. Auden and Maggie attend Defriese.

Whatever Happened to Goodbye:
McLean is named after a Defriese University coach; she used to live in Tyler, the town Defriese University is located; and her stepdad is the Defriese University basketball coach. Auden and Maggie go to Defriese University.
Auden and Eli shop at Park Mart. So does Mclean
Guy next door to McLean goes to U; McLean herself attends U. Auden’s mother is a professor at U.
McLean goes to Jackson High like Auden did before she transferred.
Peter bought McLean’s mom a house in Colby. Colby is where Auden spends the summer with her dad and stepmom.
Jason is the chef at Luna Blue. Jason is Jason Talbot, the guy who stood Auden up twice.
Heidi is friends with McLean’s mom. She comes by with Thisbe and a bathing suit from Clementine’s.

The Moon and More:
Auden’s friend Esther film’s Clyde, Ivy, & Emmaline’s party.
Emmaline goes to parties at the Tip. The Tip was were Auden had her embarrassing “hook up”.
Clyde hangs out with Emmaline. Clyde met Auden when she was on her “quest”. He made pie for her too in his laundromat.
Both stories take place in Colby.
Emmaline knows Wallace, who is friends with Auden.
Emmaline is a Gas/Gro fiend, just like Auden & friends.
Emmaline goes to Abe’s Bike, named for Eli’s friend and owned by Clyde.
They talk about Weymor college, where Auden’s dad teaches at.
Emmaline gets an ad for Tallyho, Luke cheats on her there, and they have the art show after party there. Tallyho was the club where Maggie, Esther, and Leah would go.
Emmaline knows Maggie and Auden.
Emmaline’s friend Daisy works for Heidi, Auden’s stepmother, at her shop, Clemetine’s.
Auden goes to visit her Dad and Stepmom in Colby. Emmaline lives in Colby.
Auden eats at Last Chance so does Emmaline.
Auden mom teaches at U. Emmaline will be attending in the fall.
Daisy & Emmaline win best dressed at the Beach Bash. Heidi throws the Beach Bash every year.
Heidi is friends with Emmaline’s mom, Emily.
Auden and Eli shop at Park Mart. So does Emmaline.
Adam and Wallace live down in the beach shacks. Wallace used to live in GULL’S CRY which is where Theo lives after he gets kicked out.

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to Maybe Christmas, He Thought, Doesn’t Come from a Store. Maybe Christmas…Perhaps…Means a Little Bit More: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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For more on Along for the Ride, go to The Strange Case of a Fangirl and Her Fandoms

For more on Sarah Dessen, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

For more on Anthony Trollope, go to Words to Live By

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So as this takes place on the beach I though none other than the perfect beach, Christmas Carol…the perfect California beach Christmas Carol. Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys.

Yes growing up a Californian, The Beach Boys are a group that whatever part you are from, you just grow up loving.

It was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Wilson said the idea came to him while on a date, he broke it off early, and rushed home to finish working on it. The song released in 1963.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to I Finally Read Moby-Dick

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5 thoughts on “I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride

  1. I too grew up on Sarah Dessen’s novels, and this one was by far my favourite of hers. Probably because I identified a lot with Auden, down to being studious. Plus, it also took me a while to like my name! Which of Dessen’s would be your overall favourite?

    • Moreland says:

      I have to say out of them all, my favorites are The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride. I like them for the same reason, I identified a lot with the main characters and I just loved how she captured them.

      • Excellent choices! I like some of her earlier books, such as “That Summer” and “Just Listen”. I agree that her more recent works weren’t among her best, but her latest, “Saint Anything” was a improvement of sorts.

        • Moreland says:

          Someone Like You was the first of her books I ever read and I really enjoyed it as well, I also really liked Dreamland and Just Listen.
          I’ll have to check out Saint Anything then.

  2. […] Check out my sister blog, MysteriousEats.wordpress.com […]

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