Reading Along for the Ride finally helped me to realize that Dessen’s books have a strong mother/daughter conflict theme. It seems appropriate, considering that it’s such a universal experience for teenaged girls. I appreciate a) that Dessen doesn’t recycle the same characters and crisis each time–in each book, the characters and issues are fresh and interesting, even when read right in a row, and b) the conflicts, even when not fully resolved, at least feel like they’re headed for a good resolution. Dessen isn’t overly preachy, but it does seem she wants to give her readers hope, and help them to understand that there are mature, adult relationships to be had with their parents. I like that.
On top of it all, though, Along for the Ride is a great summer romance. The beach setting, the cool job, and the strong relationships all made for a fun read, and I chewed through it in one evening. 4 stars.