Book Talk: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Book Talk: Once and for All by Sarah DessenOnce and for All by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Juvenile on June 6, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 358
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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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.

And so I have reached the end of a journey of over a year. This Sarah Dessen binge took me some time to accomplish. Though initially I had some doubts, I’m now sad to have caught up with publications, joining the thousands of people who await every new Dessen release. Once and for All isn’t quite what I expected, differing in format and style a bit from the rest. It took me a bit longer than usual to really win me over, but by the end this book had me.

I’ve talked a lot about how Dessen’s heroines tend to be very emotionally distant. Louna very much falls into that group, though it’s not because she has an uninvolved or cruel parent. In fact, she has a very close relationship with her mom and her mom’s best friend, William, who fulfills a sort of fatherly role. Louna’s not tortured by her parent’s divorce, which happened when she was very young, and she’s totally okay with him not being part of her life. Louna also has a great best friend, and, unlike in most of the others, Louna’s not going to make an even better friend.

However, Louna’s very jaded. Initially, this appears to be due to her involvement in her mom’s wedding planning. All three of them are a bit jaded about romance, confronted daily with the “big day” and also with the knowledge that most of those couples will separate in relatively short order. Her mom and William bet after each wedding about how long the couple will last; it’s not the sort of environment to necessarily cultivate romanticism.

In fact, Louna’s distaste for romance stems directly from her past relationship, which unfolds over the course of the novel. Where Dessen has always played fast-and-loose with flashbacks, starting chapters in the present and suddenly hurtling back into the MC’s memories for a while, Once and for All, uses a more typical structure, with some chapters being set in the past. You begin to suspect pretty early on what’s going on and then it’s confirmed and then you’re just waiting, and it’s as painful as you expect. I wasn’t invested in this plot line because I don’t like doomed romances, but even so those last couple of flashback chapters had me in tears.

Meanwhile, in the present, Louna’s had her nice ordered world knocked askew by the adorable, irrepressible, unavoidable, deeply annoying, yet irresistable Ambrose. He’s a flirt and a menace but also weirdly genuine. Ambrose makes a pretty terrible first impression, and I suspect he may have ADHD or something because he’s all over the place, but he won me over so completely. He’s off-the-wall, but he has a good heart.

The book completely won me over at a very specific point, which is when this suddenly became an adorable rom com in the present plot line: Louna dares Ambrose to be single for seven weeks and he in turn dares her to serial date like he does. If I were a dog, my ears would have perked all the way up at that. They have this super amazing slow burn arc which, on her side at least, is hate to love. I feel like I say this in a lot of reviews, but this is one of her better romances, and it’s easily the most romance-focused.

Once and for All feels a bit shallower than some of Dessen’s other novels, though I don’t mean that the way it sounds. The character development for Louna and Ambrose is great, and the novel tackles some tough subjects in a great way, as per usual. However, Dessen usually has a lot more going on in terms of side plots about the other cast members, but this one doesn’t really have that. There are ships for her mom and William, but we don’t get enough to really feel invested, where in other books we would have. In fact, you barely meet the love interests for her mom, William, or her best friend.

In the end, though, I did still love this book. In fact, I’d probably be most likely to recommend it to certain people, because it does have more of a rom com vibe, and Ambrose is sure to win over a lot of readers who come for the romance. Fans who super love Dessen’s usual stuff may be a wee bit disappointed.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

2 responses to “Book Talk: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen”

  1. Jessie James says:

    From the review, it seems the book will be interesting to read. Can you please tell, where can I buy this book and if I can get a discount that will be helpful too.
    Jessie James recently posted…Top 10 Types of Coffee MakersMy Profile

  2. I have a hard time finding the book on online bookstores. Can you tell me where it is sold? Do you have a promo code?

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