Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
Published: June 6th 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
First off, I just want to say that I love Sarah Dessen and all of her books! When I first heard about this book coming out last year, I circled the date in my calendar and counted down the days. Well, okay, almost but I did circle the date so that I could remember to pick up a copy!
Isn’t that the way everything begins? A night, a love, a once and for all.
As much as I love Dessen’s books, I couldn’t help but think about her other books as I read this one and how similar they are. It’s almost like a formula: you have the cynical main character who doesn’t believe in love, then there is the happy go lucky boy who is determined to make the cynical girl live a little, and then there is typically only one parent in the picture. Now not all of her books follows these guidelines, but most do. Even though I know the formula after reading almost all of her books, I still couldn’t help but be sucked in after page one! This one even made me tear up several times (okay there is a point in every one of her novels that makes me tear up, but this one made me tear at least twice more than usual)!
Once and for All is told from Louna’s point of view in the present and then we get flashback chapters of her and Ethan spread throughout. We get a sense pretty early on that Louna is I wouldn’t really say jaded, but turned off on love and that whatever happened had to have been pretty bad (basically she comes with a lot of baggage). As we learn her story and what happened almost a year earlier, it becomes clear and you can’t help but feel for her. When Ambrose comes into the picture, I couldn’t help but wonder how Dessen was going to weave him into Louna’s story.
In contrast to Louna, Ambrose is very social and outgoing. He has a dating philosophy of no commitment and only enjoying the firsts of any relationship. When he starts to work for Louna’s mom, they make a bet basically to date using each others philosophy. They continue working at her mom’s wedding planning business and partaking of the bet. It becomes obvious early on that they both like each other, but doesn’t want to admit it to each other until one of them finally does. After that happens, the book kind of slows down for me until near the very end when we get our happy ending.
Other than Louna and Ambrose, we really get to know the secondary characters as well. Normally, I don’t really care for them or I forget about them as soon as the book is over, but this time Dessen made me remember them! I hope in her future books, she does the same thing.
Ambrose would again reach out a hand, asking me to dance. And this time, I’d say yes.
Overall, this was a very quick read because I didn’t want to put the book down! I loved going back to Lakeview and seeing how Dessen was able to weave in some of her past characters into this one. As much as I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t put it as my favorite (that will probably be This Lullaby or The Truth About Forever tbh). If you love contemporary novels and haven’t picked up a Sarah Dessen book, definitely do! She is probably one of my favorite (she used to be my only until recently when I discovered Kasie West) ya contemporary authors.