Auden and Eli's First Kiss
I'm a longtime fan of Sarah Dessen, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Netflix was adapting her 2009 bestseller "Along For the Ride" into a movie starring Emma Pasarow and Belmont Cameli. Dessen's novels are known for their complex, emotionally scarred narrators with relatably complicated families and love lives, and they've stood up remarkably well to the test of time — and to my own evolving reading tastes. This is the first of three Dessen novels Netflix plans to adapt (along with "Once and For All" and "This Lullaby," one of my all-time faves), so YA romance lovers have plenty to look forward to.
So, what can "Along For the Ride" fans expect from this adaptation (out May 6)? I'm happy to report that the movie is very faithful to the book — always a smart choice when your source material is this solid. The overall arc of the plot is nearly identical: it follows 18-year-old Auden's last summer before college, which she decides to spend with her dad, stepmom, and baby step-sister in the sleepy beach town of Colby. There, the academically driven but socially stunted Auden (played by Pasarow) confronts the lingering pain of her parents' divorce and her own toxic perfectionism while developing a unique relationship with fellow insomniac Eli (Cameli), a former BMX rider with a thorny past of his own. While writer-director Sofia Alvarez tweaked a few key scenes and secondary storylines, Dessen's story of first love, coming of age, and facing your past shines through. Keep reading to learn the key differences between Dessen's beloved novel and the film adaptation.