Sometimes I need a break from thrillers! If you are looking for a cute, summery movie to watch, check out Along for the Ride on Netflix. I’m here to tell you how the Netflix series is different from the book, what other Sarah Dessen books have been made into movies, and how the Sarah Dessen books are connected! Here are my Fun Facts About Along for the Ride on Netflix!
Here are some of the questions you might have about Along for the Ride on Netflix. If I missed anything, please let me know in comments!
What is Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen about?
Both the book and Netflix series version of Along for the Ride are about Auden West, a recent high school graduate. Auden’s parents, both college English professors, are divorced. The summer before starting college at Defriese University, Auden decides to spend the summer in the beach town of Colby with her father, his new wife Heidi, and their baby daughter Thisbe.
Auden’s mother Victoria has told her that people don’t change. After visiting her dad, Auden is disappointed that her mom is right. Just as Auden felt ignored by her parents, Auden’s perpetually distracted father Robert is now ignoring baby Thisbe and the obviously overwhelmed new mom Heidi.
Auden has always struggled socially, focusing more on her school shework than friendships and fun. But sees the summer as a time to try out something new. Right off the bat, she decides to do something different. After a impulsive hookup with Jake, a guy she’s just met on the beach, Auden finds herself harshly judged by the local Colby girls.
One big theme of Along for the Ride is that people are sometimes different from the way we hastily size them up. Another theme of the book is second chances.
A sleepless Auden begins to wander around Colby at night, where she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac. Eli takes Auden to some of his favorite late nights spots, like a laundromat with a secret late night pie restaurant inside.
Auden learns that Eli has been quiet and withdrawn since his best friend Abe was killed by a drunk driver. Slowly, Auden and Eli pull each other out of their shells and each is ready to embrace life again.
How is Along for the Ride on Netflix different from the book?
The Netflix series follows the plot of the book pretty closely, with a few small changes:
Auden has a much more thorough emotional arc in the book and experiences a lot more growth. In the show, she’s just a girl yearning from freedom. In the book, she’s a bit of an intellectual snob like her parents, but learns that people she might judge harshly – like Maggie and Heidi – actually have a lot to offer.
In the book, Auden has a brother, Hollis, who isn’t included in the Netflix series. In the book, Hollis brings home a girlfriend his mother hates. Ironically, the family thinks looks and acts just like Dr. Victoria West herself.
Jake, Auden’s beach hookup and Maggie’s ex-boyfriend, is Eli’s brother in the book. That was a very awkward twist and I’m sorry the show didn’t use it!
In the book, Eli has an ex-girlfriend named Belissa. (NO, that is not a typo.)
Auden calls her mom in the series to help Heidi cope with the baby. In the book, Eli calls his mom, a nurse, who helps Heidi out.
Auden’s parents are pretty awful in the book, especially her mother, who spends her time flirting with undergrads, ignoring Auden, and belittling Heidi. The book seems to suggest that Victoria is so toxic that Auden is taking a break from her. The Netflix series seems to make Victoria a little less terrible.
In the book, Heidi hates baby Thisbe’s name and suggests that her husband bullied her into choosing it.
The summer friend group is more well-developed in the book, with Adam being a more major character.
Does Sarah Dessen Appear in a Cameo of Along for the Ride on Netflix?
I’m so glad you asked about this. I have found Sarah Dessen’s cameo in the Netflix series. If you want a very quick glimpse of her, watch around the 15 minute mark. The Clementine girls have their 6 pm dance party, and then a customer leaves the store.
The customer, in a blue dress, says, “Thanks, girls,” and gives them a little wave.
Then she walks past Maggie and onto the boardwalk. Sorry for the blurry photos, but this is a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo by Sarah Dessen!
Where Was Along for the Ride filmed?
The settings of Sarah Dessen’s books are inspired by her own home state of North Carolina. In the afterword to the book, Sarah Dessen talks about her childhood summers in Cape Cod and a magical summer that she spent in Emerald Isle, NC with her baby daughter.
The show was filmed in and around Wilmington, Northe Carolina. This very fun article from Netflix Tudum discusses some of the filming sites.
Here are two locations you might recognize from the movie:
Beach Beans, which is actually called North End Beans to Go, at Carolina Beach.
Clementine’s, the boutique that plays a big role in the show, is actually a real estate agency.
How are the Sarah Dessen books connected?
Well, this is a BIG subject, but I will try to sketch it out. Dessen definitely has a unified book universe that she uses for almost all her books.
Dessen’s books have two main locations: the small city of Lakeview and the beach town of Colby.
Most of the book’s characters go to either Jackson High (public) or Perkins Day (a private school). In the book, Auden says she started at Jackson High, then was switched by her mom to Perkins Day, and then finally ended up at Kiffney-Brown, a charter school where students take college level courses.
Dessen is known for using the same stores and shops in her books. Colby features in several of her early books, Keeping the Moon, Someone Like You, and What Happened to Goodbye. Isabel and Morgan from Someone Like You make a cameo appearance in the book of Along for the Ride.
She introduced a new setting in her most recent book, The Rest of the Story, but kept many of her familiar themes, like a character sent to live in a different place for the summer.
What other Sarah Dessen books have been made into movies?
How to Deal (2003) was a feature film starring Mandy Moore and Allison Janney. The book combined elements of two different Sarah Dessen books: Someone Like You and That Summer (1996).
Someone Like You (1998) is about Halley, a girl whose best friend Scarlett gets pregnant and then loses her boyfriend in a tragic accident. Halley helps Scarlett deal with her grief and impending motherhood. That Summer (1996) featured fifteen year-old Haven, who is upset that her older sister is getting married.
Mandy plays Halley, who is going through ALL that and has to figure out How to Deal! (That phrase is so early 2000s, right?)
What are the Sarah Dessen books in order?
That Summer (1996)
Someone Like You (1998)
Keeping the Moon (1999)
This Lullaby (2002)
The Truth About Forever (2004)
Just Listen (2006)
Lock and Key (2008)
Along for the Ride (2009)
What Happened to Goodbye (2011)
The Moon and More (2013)
Saint Anything (2015)
Once and For All (2017)
The Rest of the Story (2019) – this was Dessen’s first book with a new publisher, Harper Collins
What Other Shows Should You Watch if You Loved Along for the Ride?
On Netflix, I’d recommend Outer Banks. It has more of a plot, but is also about a tight-knit group of friends in a Carolina Coastal town.
If you want to go old school, try Dawson’s Creek (which just left Netflix for HBO Max!) or One Tree Hill (Hulu) both also teen dramas set in North Carolina.
What are your thoughts on all this? Have you seen the show or read the book? Talk to me in comments!
I wonder if I will watch this. It’s my favorite Dessen book (I know, outlier here) Wasn’t there a mention of that band (Truthsquad? Spinnerbait?) I don’t know why I thought there was some passing nod to them.
SAM – if it’s your favorite book you’ve got to watch it. Is Spinnerbait in the book? Probably! It’s a long book and I’m still skimming through it. Just Listen and That Lullaby are my favorites.