Some people run on coffee
Some people run on chocolate
I run on books!
They help through everything:
Whether sad or stressed:
For more book-filled posts, go to BYOB: Bring You Own Book
Some people run on coffee
Some people run on chocolate
I run on books!
They help through everything:
Whether sad or stressed:
For more book-filled posts, go to BYOB: Bring You Own Book
So I have been trying to catch up with my book club book reviews, and I am almost there. Just three more (including this one) and I am back on track.
So every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed.
There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. We’ve been reading a lot of fiction books, so one of the members decided to choose a non-fiction book they had found at the library.
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
During World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; was home to over 75,00 people, used more electricity than New York City, and was shrouded in mystery.
What was happening there? Why was it secret? Not even the workers knew what they were doing or “making”, as no product even seemed to come out.
Women from all over the country came fresh out of high school, right out of college, when they had nothing, as a last resort, etc. These women enjoyed making their own money, living on their own, etc.
The book chronicles different women: races, to areas of the country, ages, etc; and gives each one’s story from when they start at Oak Ridge to when they close the city down.
Between the stories of the women there are the classified documents of the government and it shows the other side of the scientists who actually knew what was going on.
It turned out that all these men and women in Oak Ridge were helping build the atomic bomb, although none of them even knew it.
I didn’t really care for this book, and neither did my fellow book club members.
We all loved the parts about the women and their life stories. It was really interesting how they built this community, friendships, were willing to leave everything behind to work at Oak Ridge, etc.
One of the best parts was when one of the workers was dating a military man. She had to wait in line to buy everything, and because there was so many people and only so many supplies, if you didn’t get there early enough then you got nothing.
Her boyfriend used to get her soap and other important toiletries- something she found incredibly romantic as it saved her so much time. I thought it was super romantic as well!
Or the one woman who’s boyfriend kept asking her to marry him, but she would say no as she didn’t want to get married. He stopped asking her, and it upset her, so she told him to ask her one more time. It was really cute.
And there was another story about an African-American woman who used to have the guards bully her when she went to visit her husband (men and women lived in separate areas). One day she ran into some workers getting rid of some extra metal-something that was perfect to be a biscuit tin. After that she would make biscuits for her husband and give some to the guard-winning him over with her excellent cooking.
However, what we didn’t like was all the technical stuff about the atomic bomb. The way it kept switching back and forth was confusing and brought you out of the women’s stories.
That part was really boring as well.
It really brought the book down and I was the only one who was able to power through it.
For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: A Wrinkle in Time
For more non-fiction books, go to Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings
For more on atomic weapons, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)
So you all know how I enjoy reading:
For years I’ve been trying to start a book club. I thought about doing one where we read a book, than watch the film version:
But did that happen?
Then I wanted to do a Jane Austen book club, where we read the books and the adaptations.
But did I do that?
Then I thought about doing a book club where we read the book and then do something like in the book; in essence “living” the book or acting it out. Like in Daring Chloe
But did I do that?
So finally I started one, but this one is simple. We read one book a month, each member having a month where they choose the book (any type), and then we meet and discuss it with good food.
I don’t know how it will turn out, but if we make it to next year I’m planning on choosing Northanger Abbey or Persuasion to honor their 100th anniversaries.
Right now the book we are reading is The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie. I’ll post after our meeting to see how it turns out!
Yes, I don’t know about you all but it seems like today’s world that we are living in is missing some crucial morals; such as respect and treating others and their belongings the same way you’d want to be treated.
I mean I work in a library and I see it all the time. People borrow items and when they return them they are in horrible condition!
They are written in, dog eared, wrinkled, water damaged, stained, and just beat up.
It is horrible! When you borrow something you should treat it and the person with respect. Return it in the same condition as the one you borrowed it in.
It’s like people think because it doesn’t belong to them it is worth nothing and they can just toss it about.
But just because you didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean it is worthless. It is actually worth more as someone else paid for it and are trusting you to treat it right.
Now I know you’re thinking well it is a library, there are too many types of people who are coming and going, too many hands, etc. But it isn’t just them, my friends have been doing it too.
I lent someone a book I thought they would enjoy, and then I saw that they had open, but laying face down. That is the fastest way to get the spine broken and once that happens you can’t really fix it.
Another friend returned the book with the pages all bent and folded.
Someone returned a book to me horribly stained, and the back cover torn off.
And that is if they return them to you.
I understand accidents happen, and sometimes you don’t mean to do something: but when did we get so cavalier about borrowing.
And it is not just books, clothes, cars, etc.; whatever. We need to stop being so disrespectful and treat others items not as we want our stuff treated, but better!
For more book-filled posts, go to 30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves
I was first introduced to the work of Willa Cather when one summer I was trying to read through a list of classics provided by Barnes and Noble. (The same list that lead me to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin.) Of course I never finished it:
However, two of the book I read during that time were My Antonia and O Pioneers!. I read O Pioneers! second, not knowing it was the first book and while I enjoyed My Antonia I loved O Pioneers! more.
And it makes me really upset that no one knows about this book.
I KNOW! It is a fantastic book but no one knows about it. It is hard to even purchase as I wanted to buy a copy for my friend, but amazon didn’t have it or Barnes & Nobles. Crazy! So why is this book fantastic? Let’s take a look.
So the book is just under 200 pages and divided into three parts.
The story takes place in Nebraska, the Bergsons are a Swedish family of six who immigrated to America for a better life, but found the prairie not as promised. The father, John, went into serious debt, but was finally able to pay it off. He owns six hundred and forty acres of the original homestead, and three hundred and twenty acres given to him by his brother when he pulled out. Just as it seemed he might be able to tame the land, he becomes ill and at age 46, is going to die.
For weeks he has been thinking what to do next, when he decides that everything must be left to his daughter Alexandra to control.
This book was published in 1913, but takes place in 1883. And even though he has two sons who come before Alexandra he recognizes in her his own spirit. While his sons Lou and Oscar are hardworking they just don’t have the business acumen.
“It was Alexandra who read the papers and followed the markets, and who learned by the mistakes of their neighbors. It was Alexandra who could always tell about what it cost to fatten each steer, and who could guess the weight of a hog before it went on the scales closer than John Bergson himself. Lou and Oscar were industrious, but he could never teach them to use their heads about their work.” pg. 15
On his deathbed, John calls all the kids together and makes them promise to keep the land and listen to Alexandra, there will be no quarreling. When each wishes to marry they can divide the land, but until then they must follow Alexandra.
Even though the boys do not like being put under their sister, they agree to their father’s wishes.
Six months later, the Bergsons invite their friend and neighbor Carl Linstrum to visit “Crazy” Ivar. Lou and Oscar make fun of him,
But Alexandra values his advice and knowledge of animals.
Ivar suffers from some kind of mental affliction, one not stated as most likely at that time they had no name for it. Sometimes he spouts wisdom, other days nonsense. He likes to live as far away from people as he can. While he suffers from these eccentricities his knowledge of animals is without competition. He has a pond where all kinds of birds come to visit, as they know he will not shoot them, as he has an aversion to guns.
Now one of the reasons this book is so good is the character of Alexandra. While others see the craziness of Ivan and brush him off, she listens to his advice and follows it, it turning out very well. What a person looks like, or acts like doesn’t matter to her; she values their hard work, their wisdom, and their heart. And she doesn’t care what others think of her.
After their father’s death, the Bergsons clan did well.
But then the drought came, an with it three years of nothing but failure.
It is at this time we see a divided family as to what to do next. Many people have left the “promises” of the prairie to follow the “promises” of St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, Alaska, etc.
Carl Limstrom comes to tell Alexandra that his family is leaving to St. Louis. This is heartbreaking, as Alexandra and him have fallen in love. Alexandra doesn’t want him to go, but Carl won’t have him and his family be a drag on their finances, after all, Carl is no farmer. But Carl promises that he won’t forget her but will work hard for her.
“I’ll write as long as I live…And I’ll be working for you as much as for myself, Alexandra. I want to do something you’ll like and be proud of. I’m a fool here, but I know I can do something!” pg. 34
This is the first part of what makes this book so sad. Alexandra doesn’t care about that Carl, she just wants you! But Alexandra understands how you feel and how you don’t want to enter a marriage being a drain on your wife, you want to be equal.
And even though you really want Carl to stay with Alexandra, you respect him for not wanting to use her inheritance and enter the relationship having her take care of him. He knows Alexandra is the greatest thing in the world and wants to show her he is worthy of her love.
But poor Alexandra
“[To Carl’s retreating form] Since you have been here, ten years now, I have never really been lonely.” pg 35
The boys are worried about what will happen next with the sweet potatoes seeming to be the only thing really living on. They want to sell out and move to the cities, where opportunity really is. Or trade their land for the river as that land is much better than the kind they have.
Alexandra of course doesn’t go on feelings, whispers, or what others tell her to do. She thinks on it long and hard, researching into what would be the best decision.
She and her younger brother Emil travel to the river to examine the land. After reviewing everything and thinking on it; she decides that the thing to do is to mortgage their land with the bank and buy up as much land as they can. The boys of course are skeptical of this plan. Six more years of working off a loan? And what if the land prices don’t soar, what if the drought continues on, what if, what if?
But Alexandra sees the way to go:
“The men in town who are buying up other people’s land don’t try to farm it. They are the men to watch, in a new country. Let’s try to do it like the shrewd ones and not like the stupid fellows.” pg. 43
The boys know this will be going against all the others and they don’t want to be viewed by others as crazy.
But Alexandra is certain, and they follow her. Alexandra is pleased as she watches the land knowing that the future is stirring.
It has been sixteen years since the death of John Bergson, now being 1899. In the years that have passed, his wife has passed on as well. The land is producing much, telephone wires zig zag the prairie, and the area is thickly populated as more have arrived to stake their home there too.
Emil has achieved Alexandra’s dream and gone on to attending the university and doing well in sports. He is tall, handsome, charming and all the girls in the area wish for a moment with him, as brief as it could be.
But he isn’t interested in any of them.
Their old friend Marie Tovesky, now Mrs. Shabata, a Bohemian, has moved back to the prairie she used to visit as a young girl now a neighbor to the Bergsons.
And how are the Bergson’s doing? Any one could tell you that they have the richest farm on the Divide, and that was all due to the woman farmer, Alexandra.
One of the things I like about Alexandra is that Cather created a character that is intelligent, strategical, yet still feminine. With today’s modern works it always feels like an either/or situation. Either they are pretty or smart. They are intelligent and masculine or an airhead and feminine. Alexandra has extreme intelligence but also enjoys doing housework, baking, and as beautiful as she is brainy.
The older brothers are married and have their own sections of land as they began families, but Alexandra has the most of land and wealth. Emil comes back and forth between Alexandra’s home and school; and there is one more addition.
No not Carl.
He is still out trying to make his fortune. No, when Ivar lost his land, Alexandra opened her home to him. Such a compassionate person, not caring what others think of him or her for having him live in the home; all that matters that there is a soul in need.
Ivar comes to Alexandra one day, afraid that people will send him to the asylum for being different, but Alexandra doesn’t care. She knows what it is like to be talked about because you do things differently.
“Don’t come to me again telling me what people say. Let people go on talking as they like, and we will go on living as we think best. ” pg. 60
A lot has changed in the sixteen years with modernity. A lot of the old ways of living and being are no longer accepted. In the family, Oscar’s wife will not allow any Swedish to be spoken in the house, so when they visit the relatives only English can be spoken.
Alexandra has not married, her heart still pining after the only one who ever truly understood her, but enjoys being an aunt and looking after her brother’s children. But as she is the wealthiest of the whole clan, she often becomes caught in a game between her scheming brothers and sister-in-laws, as they all desire different things.
One day she is with her nieces in the flower garden when a tall, handsome stranger comes on the prairie. It is Carl!
Carl is on his way to Seattle and then to Alaska to go gold prospecting. He stopped by to say hi and Alexandra is thrilled as she has missed him so much. The brothers aren’t as they are worried that instead of a gold prospector he might be a gold digger and after Alexandra’s wealth.
Carl admits that he had hoped to present himself as better, worthy of Alexandra, but he has nothing.
“You see…measured by your standards I’m a failure. I couldn’t buy even one of your cornfields. I’ve enjoyed a great many things, but I’ve nothing to show for it all.” pg. 77
That doesn’t matter to Alexandra of course, but Carl must prove himself.
I think Carl and Alexandra are just the cutest couple. Carl is so sweet to her and pretty much understands her (except for the having to prove himself thing because she does not care) and doesn’t find any measure of her odd or not right.
“I wonder whether I should ever be able to tell you all that I was thinking up there. It’s a strange thing, Alexandra; I find it easy to be frank with you about everything under the sun-except yourself!’
‘You are afraid of hurting my feelings, perhaps.’ Alexandra looked at him thoughtfully.
‘No, I’m afraid it would give you a shock. You’ve seen yourself for so long in the dull minds of the people around you, that if I were to tell you how you seem to me, it would startle you. But you must see that you astonish me.” pg. 83
Carl and Alexandra are just perfect:
I want them to get together!!!!!
Carl and Alexandra go to Marie’s and spend time with her being interrupted by her husband. No two people could be more horribly matched. Marie is light and fun, while her husband Frank is jealous, depressing, and unfriendly.
They meet when Marie was at school and she thought Frank was handsome, brooding, and romantic. Her father did not want them to marry, and nothing makes two people “fall in love” faster than when they are forbidden to.
She was sent to a convent, but as soon as she turned 18 left it and married Frank. Her father bought them the farm and they’ve been unhappy ever since. Marie realized that the Frank she thought she loved was one that was not real, but created in her mind.
Emil and Marie spend lots of time together, as he often helps out with the farm, taking care of things that Frank is too lazy to. But that friendship must end. Emil can’t pretend anymore. He is in love with Marie and wants to be with her, but of course she is married.
Carl and Emil head off to a Catholic fair, where Emil runs into his newly married friend, Amédéé. While they are gone the brothers come to talk to Alexandra about Carl. They wanted Alexandra’s land to be willed to their children when she dies, but Alexandra will not be bullied and will do what she wants with her land.
You have to read what they try and use to talk her out of it. They tell her things like she’s just a woman, she didn’t really do the work “even though she had the ideas”, the property always belongs too the men, she is too old at 40 to think of marrying, Carl is four years younger than her too young.
But Alexandra holds her ground. She tells them that she owns her land and, she was the driving force that created their wealth, and they can stuff it or go to their lawyers but nothing will come of it.
Alexandra tries to talk to Emil about it, but he is too heartsick he begs her to send home far away, to Mexico.
She agrees and is sad that no one really understands her. She has no one, Marie and Carl being her only friends.
Meanwhile Lou and Oscar go to talk to Carl and convince him he is worthless.
“What a hopeless position you are in, Alexandra!’ [Carl] exclaimed feverishly. ‘It is your fate to be always surrounded by little men. And I am no better than the rest. I am too little to face the criticism of even such men as Lou and Oscar. Yes, I am going away; to-morrow. I cannot even ask you to give me a promise until I have something to offer you. I thought, perhaps, I could do that; but I find I can’t.’
‘What good comes of offering people things they don’t need?’ Alexandra asked sadly. ‘I don’t need money. But I have needed you for a great many years. I wonder why I have been permitted to prosper, if only to take my friends away from me.
‘I don’t deceive myself,’ Carl said frankly. ‘I know that I am going away on my own account. I must make the usual effort. I must have something to show for myself. To take what you would give me, I should have to be a very large man or a very small one, and I am only in the middle class.’
Alexandra sighed. ‘I have a feeling that if you go away, you will not come back. Something will happen to one of us, or to both. People have to snatch at happiness when they can in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find.” pg. 114-115
In one day she loses all the men she cares about.
Winter never feels as cold as when you no longer have those you care about. No longer will Alexandra see Oscar or Lou because of how they treated Carl. She gets letters from Emil and Carl, but it is not the same as having them near.
Mrs. Lee, Lou’s mother-in-law and one of the old timers, loves to visit Alexandra where she can follow in the old ways of living and not be judged. Even though the brothers are no longer welcome, Alexandra still opens her home to the rest of the relatives.
Alexandra brings Emil’s letter for Marie to read, never knowing what interest lies in Marie’s light and happy heart. Marie also gifts Alexandra with a scarf she made for Emil. Little does Alexandra know how Marie really feels on the inside.
Marie’s life has grown exceedingly unhappy. She realizes that she and Frank are not suited for each other at all. She becomes more and more unhappy and folds into herself.
Emil has returned from Mexico at last, and just in time for a big carnival at the Catholic church. Emil runs into his old friend Amédéé, now a father. All the girls flutter around Emil, and when he gives one of his turquoise stones to auctioned it starts an even greater flummox.
Marie is just as crazy about Emil, but he smartly keeps his distance from her.
Frank is angry as he is jealous and wants someone to blame for Marie not caring for him any longer. But the only one who drove the wedge was him and his cruel nature.
When the lights go out, every girl is kissed by their sweetheart and Emil does the one thing he has wished for so long, kisses Marie.
Emil is heartsick and finally asks Marie what has been on his mind for so long, why would you marry Frank? Marie tells him she loved him. Frank was the same now as then, but as a young girl she saw him differently. And now she pays for her heedlessness, stubbornness, and naivety. She begs Emil to leave as she doesn’t want them to sin and she can’t go.
Emil is preparing to leave for Omaha to train as a lawyer, then going on to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Before he departs, he stops by to see his friend Amédéé. Amédéé. is in awful pain, completely sick with appendicitis. The doctor tries to take care of him, but it is to late, Amédéé is gone.
Emil stays on for the service and is to set off, but goes back to Marie’s to get one thing of hers to hold on to. When he gets there he discovers her lying in the grass.
Frank comes home and sees Emil’s horse in the barn. He then goes into the field and hears something. As he comes closer he sees two figures in the field and shoots. And then streaks off.
Ivar finds Emil’s mare the next morning all worn out and not taken care of. He knows Emil would never do anything like that unless he was hurt or injured. He goes next door to get help and finds the bodies.
Alexandra has become so sick with grief she cannot do anything without being instructed. Her boy, her best friend…gone.
She feels horrible for always throwing them together, never thinking what would happen. She feels so cold and alone.
Alexandra goes to see Frank Shabata, but feels no anger at him. Only pity.
But one bright spot arrives, as soon as Carl gets Alexandra’s note on the death he hurries over.
He isn’t as important as he would have wished, but he does have a good buisness starting in the West. The two plan to marry, going West but eventually returning home to the prairie. At last, Alexandra will no longer be alone. A bittersweet ending
I love this book but it is sooo sad. Just full of feelings:
But I love it anyway and read it over and over.
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 Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
For more on Sarah Dessen, go to 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
For more on An Affair to Remember, go to Anything Can Happen: An Affair to Remember (1957)
For the Christmas Carol I choose Silent Night otherwise known in Bohemian as Tichá noc. This song was written in 1816 by Father Joseph Mohr when he was visiting Mariapfarr, Austria.
Two years later, Father Mohr approaches Franz Xaver Gruber, a schoolmaster and organist, and asked him to set it to music. Together they performed it during Christmas Eve’s mass.
In 1859, Pastor John Freeman Young translated the song from German to English. Since then the song has been translated into over 140 different languages.
I chose the version by Celtic Woman as I really enjoy that group.
For more on Celtic Woman, go to I Finally Read Moby-Dick
For more Christmas Carols, go to Each Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man
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.
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 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.
So Auden West never had a real childhood. Her parents are professors, and her brother Hollis (meaning holly tree) had colic as a baby.
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.
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.
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.
Auden also has insomnia.
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.
This worked for a while, but eventually they just started fighting again.
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.
Mostly Auden spends all her free time at an all night diner and reads, drinking coffee.
She will be heading off to a top college in the summer and has been studying the classes her mother picked out for her.
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…
but this time things change. She just can’t stand another summer of not living.
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.
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.
Auden is asked out by a local boy and heads down to a beach party, a huge mistake as he was a total jerk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
She ends up going out with the girls, not really expecting anything but just wanting some company.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I loved this book so much!
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.
She’s fun, sweet, and the best friend you could ever have.
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.
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.
He is smart, talented, compassionate, sweet, adorable- and I wish he was real as he is just perfect.
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.
But the rest of the book was fantastic and it is something I read over and over again.
Now each Sarah Dessen novel connects to all the others, and I’ve listed said connections with Along for the Ride, AFTR.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451
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
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.
For more Christmas Carols, go to I Finally Read Moby-Dick