Sarah Dessen’s best-selling book Along for the Ride is now a Netflix hit. The author’s beloved characters come to life over a decade after the book was published. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Sarah about Along for the Ride’s road to the big screen.
“The book has already had a life of its own. It’s nice that it’s not a new release. It’s a book that I promoted and walked around and talked about for a long time. To be able to see it take on this new life is just very cool,” Sarah told HollywoodLife. ” I feel like Sofia [Alvarez] has taken all the strongest parts of it and amplified them, which is something I couldn’t do. I could never adapt my own stuff. I feel like I would just be terrible… I’m just thrilled. I really am and I love that this is the first one and that it’s coming out at this time when it’s really going to resonate with this idea of making up for lost time and second chances and things that we’ve missed that maybe are not gone forever.”
Along for the Ride is the first of three planned Netflix film adaptations of Sarah’s novels. The author revealed why Along for the Ride is the perfect movie to kick off the Dessen dynasty on Netflix.
“I think coming out of the pandemic, we’re all making changes,” Sarah noted. “I feel like a lot of people have pivoted, and we’ve realized that you don’t want to put a lot of stuff off. Auden is a girl who is always thinking about the future, and that’s the way that I was too, especially when I was writing that book. I think I changed a lot over the pandemic, and I’ve also changed a lot as my daughter has grown because it’s forced me to grow and become a different person. I used to be so focused always on what I needed to do next. It was always go, go, go, go, go, go. Now I have been forced to be still for a little while, and I find that I like it. But I get that hunger and that perfectionism. I’m always going to be able to relate to that, and I think that’s something everybody can relate to.”
The Netflix film is the first time in nearly 20 years that one of Sarah’s books has been adapted for the screen. The last book-to-film adaptation was How To Deal, which combined That Summer and Someone Like You. The film will turn 20 in 2023.
“It was such a wonderful experience. I was younger, and I got to go up to the set. I got to meet Mandy Moore when she was on the rise. I got to meet Allison Janney, and it was really good. I was definitely a little bit more at a distance since it was two books put into one by a screenwriter. With this [Along for the Ride], I was able to really talk to Sofia a lot about her vision and everything, but it was such a good experience for a young writer, and how amazing that I’m getting to do it again. That it even happened once is unbelievable, and now that I’m getting to do it again and be so proud of it.”
Sarah pointed out that without the This Is Us star How To Deal “wouldn’t have gotten made.” She hopes that Mandy could even star in one of the upcoming film adaptations, bringing her and Mandy full circle.
“I’m always rooting for Mandy. I have this fantasy that she’s going to be in one of these other movies. I’d love for her to go from playing the daughter to playing the mother,” Sarah told HollywoodLife. Along for the Ride is now streaming on Netflix.