Review: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Review: Once and for All by Sarah DessenOnce and for All by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers in June 2017
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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.

Note: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All opinions shared are my own.

**SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers. Please do not read this review if you are looking for a spoiler-free review.

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen is the first book and only book I’ve read by Sarah Dessen. While it was a good read, I think there were elements in Once and for All that just didn’t work for me, and to talk about said elements, I can’t do a spoiler-free review. So if you haven’t read Once and for All yet and don’t want to be spoiled, please STOP READING NOW. Granted, it is already October. I’d like to assume anyone that truly wanted to read Once and for All without spoilers would have read it already. Let’s proceed…

Dessen’s Once and for All was a wonderful YA contemporary romance, and if it took out the whole bit about Louna’s, the main character, boyfriend dying in a tragic shooting and the fact that EVERYONE found love in the end, I think I could have given this story a higher rating.

First, let’s talk about the whole her boyfriend dies in a tragic shooting bit. In Once and for All, it is slowly revealed that Louna is anti-love because her long-distance boyfriend died tragically in a tragic shooting. While I’m all for books that tackle tough issues like this, I don’t think Dessen did anything with it. It simply felt like a means to explain why Louna is so scorned against love. She didn’t even seem all that upset most of the time. I’m not sure if she was still even grieving. There are so many other ways to have a main character not want to be in love. I don’t quite understand why you’d choose to have her boyfriend die tragically in that way and not really address the issue at all. It just seemed unnecessary to me. I truly wish Dessen chose a different route to explain Louna’s scorn against love. I mean, her relationship with her boyfriend consisted of a single night and a bunch of texts and phone conversations. There are other directions, I think, that could have been taken.

My second major issue with the book was the fact that EVERYONE found love. Louna comes from a family that is cynical of love despite them being wedding planners. Magically, however, by the end Louna found love, her single mother found love, and her mother’s gay best friend/business partner also found love. I understand wanting a happily ever after, but that’s a bit extreme, isn’t it? Plus I wasn’t very invested in her mother or her mother’s gay best friend/business partner. So in the end, I really didn’t care.

Despite all of that, Once and for All did have its moments. I did have fun reading about Louna and her antics with her new love interest, Ambrose, while they worked the weddings, and I do think I’ll try reading other novels by Sarah Dessen. I was just hoping for more with Once and for All, but in the end, was a bit let down by some of the plot choices made in the book.

Have you read Once and for All by Sarah Dessen? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? Also, what Sarah Dessen book would you recommend I try reading next? I’d love to know!