Some good news for fans of YA novelist Sarah Dessen: Netflix has optioned three of her books and set an adaptation of the first, Along for the Ride. Dessen's novels are staples in the YA world and have been for over 20 years. Her first book, That Summer, was published in 1996, before YA was even considered its own genre. She followed That Summer up with Someone Like You, which were combined to form the basis of the movie How to Deal. That movie starred Mandy Moore, Allison Janney, and Peter Gallagher and was the only adaptation of Dessen's books prior to this news.
Since publishing That Summer and Someone Like You, Dessen has had a regular release schedule, publishing once every year or two. She's written 13 books so far, and her 14th, The Rest of the Story, will be released on June 4. Dessen's novels always take place in the summer, feature a resilient female protagonist, and often a love interest as well. Though she's never written a sequel, many of her books take place in the fictional beach town of Colby, with shared locations and characters. Like The Rest of the Story, Dessen's novels usually drop at the beginning of the summer, giving fans plenty of time to get caught up on her latest read.
THR broke the Netflix option news and the reveal that Along for the Ride will be the first adaptation. The other books set to be adapted are among Dessen's most popular: This Lullaby and Once and For All. Along for the Ride will be produced by Bryan Unkeless and Eric Newman under their Screen Arcade banner. Alyssa Rodrigues is set to executive produce. Netflix also specified that this adaptation will be a movie. The book Along for the Ride features Auden, who stopped sleeping during her parents' divorce, but finds solace in the late-night scene of a sleepy beach town.
Netflix has had a lot of success with both YA source material and romantic comedies, making Dessen's books a natural fit for the streamer. Last year, Netflix released the YA adaptations To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Dumplin'. To All the Boys I've Loved Before blew up on social media, prompting Netflix to confirm a sequel only a few months after the first movie's release. Dumplin' was also well-received, with many praising the film's sweet message. On the romantic comedy side, the streamer found success with original movie Set It Up. That movie's stars and filmmakers are already working on a new project together.
Considering how much Netflix viewers have connected with their YA adaptations so far, it makes sense for the streamer to work with a juggernaut like Dessen. In addition to being well-respected by YA fans, many of whom have read her books since middle school, Dessen also brings far more source material than a newer author would. If Along for the Ride is well-received, it wouldn't be surprising at all for Netflix to option other books from Dessen's vast catalog. Like with her novels, we could have movies based on Dessen's books for many years to come.