Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on June 6th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Buy: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, Chapters !ndigo
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 last couple of novels have been a meh read for me, but I am surprised how quickly I warmed up to Once and For All. I think what made this book fun for me was the relationships between Louna’s mom and William and then her relationship with her mom and William. It’s not everyday you see adults having a best friend relationship in books or that you see them interacting with each other and becoming more than just the one dimensional background character that feels flat, and only interesting for a short time. So it was interesting to see how Louna’s mom and William relationship functioned. I really wished that William was her father because from the way he interacted with Louna throughout the book you’d think that’s their relationship and it is confusing when you realize it isn’t what it seems to be.
The other thing that worked for me was the romance between Louna and Ambrose. I wouldn’t say they didn’t like each other because it felt like a one sided dislike from Louna’s end, but anyways I liked how she slowly warms up to him as the novel progressed. Speaking of romances the novel is told from flashbacks that leads up to the present day, so like every other chapter was a flashback of sorts. It was confusing at first, but eventually all the pieces fell together and it explained to why Louna was a bit cynical towards the whole happily ever after idea even though she says she isn’t. The flashbacks were heartbreaking and bittersweet.
When Ambrose suggests a bet, that he date one girl and she plays the role of the womanizer that he is, I was like you know it’s not going to work out because it’s obvious that Ambrose likes Louna. I really enjoyed their banter and I found Ambrose’s character more interesting than Louna’s to be honest. Maybe because he was the annoying, happy go lucky, without caring about the consequences, and live in the present guy which was refreshing than being the normally broody, dark cliched type of guys presented in YA novels.
“Oh.” Ambrose exhaled. “Well, sure. What do you need?”
“See?” she said, pointing at him. “Now that’s loyalty.”
“I am not going to pretend to be engaged to Ambrose!” I said.
“Engaged?” He grinned at me. “Oh, this should be fun.”
If you are familiar with Sarah Dessen’s novel it’s always fun to spot familiar characters and settings from her previous books worked their way into the present novels. Once and For All wasn’t without this exception and it makes you pay attention to when they’d show up. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it’s subtle that you could miss it when you’re reading the novel, but nevertheless it always bring a smile to my face when I recognize the characters and shout omg they’re from that one book.
Once and For All is definitely a must read for this summer with its summer-y vibe despite its wedding planning storyline.