Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: June 11, 2009
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Riding a bike is only one of the many things Auden's missed out on. Even before her parents' divorce, she was cast in the role of little adult, never making waves, focusing on academics to please her demanding mother.
Now she's spending the summer before college in the tiny beach town of Colby with her father and his new wife and baby. A job in a trendy boutique introduces her to the world of girls, their friendships, conversations, romances. And then there's Eli, an intriguing loner. A fellow insomniac, Eli introduces Auden to the nocturnal world of Colby. Together they embark on a quest: for Auden, to experience the care-free teenage life she's been denied; for Eli, to put a tragic episode behind him. Combine two lonely people with a charming beach town and an endless supply of long summer nights, and just about anything can happen.
Auden is such an awesome character. I love the way she metamorphoses from this socially awkward, studies-obsessed recluse into a well-rounded individual. Eli is an amazing character as well, and I love that he is pretty much just a normal guy. He's got his good traits and some that maybe aren't so perfect, and a bit of baggage. The two of them work really well together, and I love to see the way that their relationship evolves throughout the book, and how it changes each of them slowly. No instantaneous magnetism here. Just a natural, honest relationship evolution. And I love that. All of the characters are believable. Maggie and Heidi are my favorites of the supporting cast, but they're all well-written and realistic.
The plot moves at a leisurely pace, but it never gets bogged down with a lack of progression. It follows Auden's transformation and the evolution of not just her, but of her relationships with all of those around her. Her parents, Heidi, Hollis, her new friends, Eli, herself. She really grows a lot over the course of the summer, and so do the people around her.
I'm so glad that I picked up this book. It's a great summery, beach read. There will be many Dessen novels in my reading pile in the future.