Book Review: Once And For All by Sarah Dessen

once-and-for-all-540x822Hardcover, 358 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers – Penguin Group.

Synopsis: 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.

My Review:

I won an advance reader’s copy of this title in a giveaway hosted by Indigo Teen (@indigoteen) on Twitter.

Is it really ever summer time without a fresh new Sarah Dessen book to devour? I don’t think so. I was late on the Dessen bandwagon, and have only read her books over the past 3 or so years, which means I didn’t get a chance to grow up with her stories. Nonetheless, every book is always a delight to read and bound to keep you hooked for hours! If you’re looking for your next summer/beach read, this is it!

My absolutely favourite part of this novel was the wedding planning environment itself. I have never encountered a story surrounding the world of wedding planning, so it was interesting and incredibly fun to read about all the mishaps and struggles that come with working behind the scenes. I loved Louna’s family and their daily banter; it was funny, witty, and very relatable from a service industry perspective.

The larger story deals with grief and overcoming a tragedy, second chances and discovering new love. Louna slowly allows herself to open up about past events and through the rise of a dating bet with Ambrose, she embarks on a series of dates to break in the ice and discover how to love again. Louna herself starts from a very cynical and disbelieving standpoint and it was fun to see her being challenged by Ambrose’s positive outlook and hope on a regular basis.

As always, Dessen infiltrates characters and settings from previous novels into the background as a nice bonus. If you’ve read her previous titles, you might recognize some names and of course, the beachside town of Colby.

The one downside of this book for me is that I felt Ambrose as a character could have been more developed. We don’t really get a glimpse into his side of the love story, at least not as detailed as Louna’s. This gave the romance a bit of an “instant love” feel from his side and felt underwhelming in comparison to Louna’s relationship with her previous boyfriend. The friendship storyline with Jilly also fell flat at times when the disconnect between characters felt unrealistic, considering they had been friends for years.

Overall I gave this title a 3.5/5 and would recommend it for anyone looking for a sweet but deeper read this summer. Fans of Morgan Matson’s Second Chance Summer will devour it for sure!

Author: Marina

Books and comics enthusiast.

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