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Once and for All Kindle Edition
From Sarah Dessen, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of SAINT ANYTHING and JUST LISTEN, comes a new novel set in the world of wedding planning!
Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna's summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged now that he's met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna's second chance is standing right in front of her.
Sarah Dessen’s many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily-ever-after.
"Dessen’s expertise at creating a character faced with change is once again on display in this book that reminds readers that love is measured ‘not in minutes but in moments.’” —VOYA
"Romance, humor, kindhearted characters, and a touch of painful reality make this another sure bet for Dessen fans." —Kirkus Review
"There is no question that this title will be popular with Dessen fans and romance lovers." —School Library Journal
Praise for Sarah Dessen's writing:
"Is there anyone who can write about what matters most to teens as well as Dessen can? I sincerely doubt it." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling novelist of Leaving Time and My Sister’s Keeper
"Sarah Dessen is something of a rock star in young adult fiction. Her bestselling coming-of-age novels are warmly written explorations of teens in transition that are, by turns, questioning, humorous and hopeful." —Los Angeles Times
★ "Dessen is as skilled as ever at turning out steady, satisfying stories about teens that are easy to fall for." —Publishers Weekly, starred review for The Moon and More
"Readers can count of Dessen; she's a pro at creating characters caught at a nexus of change, who have broken relationships and who need to make decisions . . . Readers will enjoy every minute they spend with her." —Kirkus Reviews on What Happened to Goodbye
"Realistic teen dialogue, authentic girl friendships, and a complex underlying question: Can people really change?" —Kirkus Reviews on Along for the Ride
"Good story, real characters, happy ending . . . another must-read." —VOYA on Lock and Key
"The romance which forms the core of the story is everything a romance should be." —Horn Book on Just Listen
From School Library Journal
- ASIN : B01LXKMKQK
- Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers (June 6, 2017)
- Publication date : June 6, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 2566 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 363 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #313,939 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on September 5, 2017
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First of all, the cover and the title are quite misleading. I thought I was getting a romance about a couple who would eventually marry, but the protagonist, Louna, is only 17. The only real tie-in is the fact that she works for her mother, a world-class wedding planner. Her mom and her mom’s partner (business partner, who happens to be gay) are basically Louna’s parents, and both super cynical about love. They’ve passed this on to Louna, though that almost stretches belief–17 is too young to be that jaded, and her jaded years were well before the story begins, too. Because she did find love (I guess when she was 16): she met Ethan at a wedding. He was depicted as the whirlwind romance of her life, though she literally only saw him for one night (and lost her virginity to him). They conducted a long-distance relationship after that, intending to keep in touch, only he was killed in a school shooting. That, too, was weird. Timely I suppose, but information was withheld from the reader for too long, so that it came off like Louna just struggled with panic from excessive empathy whenever she heard about a school shooting… until we learn that that was how Ethan died.
Louna’s story with Ethan is interspersed in flashback with her present day, where she meets Ambrose, the wealthy son of a bride who is easily the best part of the story. He’s such a fantastically memorable character–annoying, super quirky, suave and utterly confident, and yet also thoughtful and kind. Some of these contradictions also didn’t totally work, though: Ambrose makes a point of dating multiple girls at once, leading to getting busted and having soda thrown in his face, and that sort of thing. Yet, apparently he falls for Louna pretty much immediately, and decides he wants to win her over. To that end (we learn later), he makes a bet with her: for seven weeks, he will have to find one girl and commit to a relationship, while cynical introverted Louna will have to date compulsively like he does, for the same length of time. Whichever of them calls it quits first, loses the bet–and the other one gets to choose the next person the loser has to date. It seems friendly enough, though it doesn’t quite ring true that Ambrose would go through all that just to force Louna to give him a chance. Still, if you suspend your disbelief on that point, the way it played out was well done.
The twist, of course, is that Louna never tells Ambrose what happened to her last boyfriend. He just assumes it was a bad breakup, and thus puts his foot in it. The way Louna reacts to this really made very little sense to me… but the event that brings her around in the end was SO perfectly believable and satisfying.
So… entertaining, but with a lot of flaws, I’d say.
My rating: ***1/2
Language: some, but not excessive
Violence: it discusses school shootings but without details
Sexual content: present, but only in one scene. Could’ve done without it.
Political content: pretty heavy, on the “politically correct” side
Sarah Dessen has long been one of my go-to authors. Once and For All is a good read, but it wasn't my favorite of hers. This book is just as emotional as her others, but there isn't quite as much romance throughout. The lack of undeniable romance throughout is the only thing that kept this from being a 5-Star read for me. If you enjoy heartfelt, clean, coming of age romances, then I recommend Once and For All as one of your next reads.
Top reviews from other countries
‘It was the closest thing to “I love you” a boy had ever said to me. Maybe it meant even more.’
It’s been years since I read the blurb of ‘Once And For All’ but remembering it’s wedding planner premise and thanks to its cute style cover I was honestly expecting a light hearted, swoon-worthy read for my first contemporary of 2022. Boy were my expectations wrong. The swoon factor was there, the rom-com elements popping up time and time again but this book packs one hell of an emotional punch too and deals with some unexpectedly dark – and potentially triggering – subjects as well. So please do bear that in mind and look into its triggers if necessary.
All that being said I adored this novel. It tackled some heavier issues than I’d expected but I can hardly fault it for that when it did it so well. There are two major love stories told over the course of this book – Louna’s previous one that’s left her guarded and the present day one, building up throughout the book. Both were wonderfully well done and felt utterly believable to me. Perhaps some people would find one of these love stories to be a case of ‘insta-love’ but for me the connection felt believable and that’s what ultimately counts in my mind. One day, whirlwind romance stories exist for a reason, after all.
Ambrose was delightful, making me smile time and time again during his appearances across the page. Louna was interesting and believable, her jadedness towards love understandable given her back story. Her best friend felt vibrant and real with a hectic life of her own and her family were intriguing too. All in all I didn’t really feel that any character wasn’t fleshed out fully.
The drama of planning weddings led to some wonderfully creative moments that made me laugh. Personally I could read dozens of stories within this family business and would happily follow in any of these character’s footsteps again. As I said earlier Louna’s past experience with love is an ultimately difficult read though so please do bear that in mind. It’s handled with care and felt like a realistic take on such trauma but as it covers a very traumatic subject I feel that warning readers to look into this book’s triggers is due.
I’d say it goes without saying that I wholeheartedly recommend ‘Once And For All’ and am kicking myself for having let it sit unread on my Kindle for so long. This is my first book by Sarah Dessen in years but it certainly won’t be my last. Diving into this tale reminded me of all the reasons I adored what I’ve read by her in the past.
Ambrose, the irritating, impulsive, serial dating, clear love interest who’s introduced near the start of the book, could easily be a character that I could hate – and indeed lots of reviews I’ve seen have him pegged as far from an interesting character, more like a headwrecker. But actually I found him quite enjoyable, as he’s not a bad character – he’s just more impulsive than many of the love interests in Sarah Dessen books. Still, this departure from the norm was fun, as Ambrose was kind of more exciting than some other love interests in YA contemporaries I’ve read.
I think I was biased towards this book because it’s set mostly around weddings, and I really love weddings, so I was predisposed to like this. But as well as that, it had all of the Dessen hallmarks of a summer, a romance, a friendship, family ties, and a degree of self-discovery which lets the protagonist discover things about herself that she might not have known before.
I was left with a few questions at the end of this book, though. Mostly about Jilly. What was the deal with her having to look after her four siblings all the time? I understand that there’s a bit of give and take in families, and being one of the younger siblings in my own family, I’ve never had to do this, but Jilly seems to spend her entire summer being a nanny to four children who she obviously loves, but gets no benefit out of?
Well, I guess she gets the benefit of her parents making enough money to house and clothe her, but I have to wonder exactly what her parents are intending on doing right after the book ends, when Jilly goes away to college and they suddenly have serious childcare issues.
Also, I felt like the end of the book was quite rushed. There were two time skips in the last twenty pages, and I thought they interrupted the flow of the book – unfortunately, this was the point where the book resolved itself, and I was left very, very slightly dissatisfied with how quickly it was handled. Although it was obvious which way it was going to go, it could have had a bit more exposition behind it.
Also, I felt pretty bad for Ben. Sucks to be him.
All in all, though, I did very much enjoy this. I am very much a fan of Dessen’s work, and will continue to read whatever she produces, but this one doesn’t make the top five of Dessen books, for sure. I wavered between three and four stars, and eventually settled on four, because weddings (seriously, I love weddings) but it was a close-run thing.
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.
Where do I begin? This books was one of my favourite reads in 2017. It was the first Sarah Dessen book I’ve read.
• This books was light and fluffy at the start. Then BOOM! the unexpected comes.
• Now... the writing style. Wow just wow. The style in which Sarah Dessen has written in makes it very easy to follow the plot and also makes you not want to put the book down. I read this book in 1 and a half days which is a very big achievement for me. It kinda says something.
• The plot of this book was what stayed with me a lot. I really felt connected to Louna in a way (having have to go through the grieving process myself). Reading this beautiful book made my heart hurt in a way I never thought it would hurt again.
• I really loved how the characters communicated with each other especially Natalie (Louna's mum) and William. It added such a warm and fuzzy feeling to the whole story.
• Overall I give this book 5/5 stars. Really enjoyed the plot, the writing style and characters
I could not put my Kindle down. I loved all of the characters and the story had the ability to break your heart. Louna is a strong and independent woman who is recovering from something bad (I don't want to give too much away). The way she views the world is both refreshing and real. There are two beautiful love stories in this book, they don't compete against one another but sit side by side as different as salt and pepper.
Read this. You won't regret it. You will laugh, you will cry and you will fall in love with the characters.