Title: Once and for All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: June 6th 2017
Number of Pages: 358
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Romance
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.
Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.
Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.
**Thank you so much Penguin Random House International for providing me an ARC. This, by any means, did not affect nor influence my review.**
This is my first read from Sarah Dessen and even though it wasn’t the best reading experience, I can still understand why readers love her and her books. She has her own unique style and writes beautifully. This book specifically has such a tender, charming and lovely story that made me see why readers keep on wanting more from her.
This welcomes us in the fun and stressful world of wedding planning and I really loved and enjoyed it. I got to know wedding planning whatnots. Despite Louna being the focus, the plot didn’t much suffer. I also liked the altering timelines of the present and the past. I like the family dynamics. Although Louna basically have a broken family, there’s William – I am not sure if he’s gay or bisexual – who fills in her father’s spot. And it’s amazing to see how happy they are. I also loved that there were lots of lessons Louna learned at the end.
I really liked the main character, Louna – though not immediately – she’s guarded, more on the practical side, responsible and a thoughtful daughter. Because of her past, she somehow ended up not believing with love and forever anymore. She also made some decisions I won’t personally choose to do. But still, I liked her because I understand her. Ambrose, however, I thought at first that he will be the next love of my life but turns out I was wrong. I never and will never like playboys (I mean, who likes them?) But I liked the helpful, charming, idealistic, fun side of him. It’s just that, I really thought he’s the character I was supposed to fall in love with, but I didn’t. He failed to capture me. If I were to choose, I’ll still go with Ethan. Jilly, Louna’s flirty and fun-loving best friend who is also the definition of reliable and responsible sister and daughter, I really like her for who she is and for being the best bff.
There were also different love stories I encountered in this book – from their clients’, to Louna’s parents, to William’s, to Jilly’s, to Ambrose’s and to Louna herself. Want to talk about love? This book definitely got you. Ironically though, it wasn’t too cheesy or romantic. It made my heart flutter and made me giddy for some time but not hardcore swoon and head-over-heels in love.
But above all these, what I loved most is that despite the fun and delight of it all, there’s still pain, grief and sadness brought by Louna’s back story and Ethan which gave the story more depth. I definitely don’t like what happened, however, if there was no history, no Ethan, no first love, I would probably enjoy this less. But there was. And how it affected the present Louna? It made a huge impact on the whole story.
My problems were that it took me more than a month to finish this book. In fact, just like the typical boring contemporary, I feel like it somehow caused me to fell into the hellhole of a reading slump. Despite Dessen’s beautiful storytelling, I just couldn’t find any reason to keep on reading until I get passed more than approximately 60% of the book. It was slow and just wasn’t gripping not even to mention that Ambrose somehow disappointed me. Despite liking the characters in general, I didn’t really connect with any of them either and there were some parts leading up to the end that felt rushed.
Overall, I still ended up liking my first ever Sarah Dessen read. Once and for All captured my heart. If you want a book focused on love, weddings and everything in between, but not super cheesy you should try Once and For All the Sarah Dessen.
Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.
Find her on:
Have you read Once and for All? Are you a fan of Sarah Dessen? What is your favorite Sarah Dessen book? What are your thoughts about the characters? Did you like this as well? Share your thoughts below!