by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin, Viking Books for Young Readers on June 6, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Point of View:First Person
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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.
You guys, before we jump into our monthly buddy review of Once and For All by Sarah Dessen, please join me in wishing one of my favorite book pimps, Ames, a very happy birthday as today is her special day!!
I hope you have a brilliant day because you’re a brilliant friend and deserve all the brilliant things in the world. Big hugs from California and don’t freeze too much in that Canadian madness that is winter. Love you long time, Ames!
Here’s some birthday Bana for you sweets!
Now…on to the review.
Louna Barrett is working the summer before her first year of college for her mother’s wedding planning business. She’s busy preparing for events and spending as much time with her high school friend Jilly before she’s off to another city for school. She is in no way looking for any kind of romantic entanglements, even though Jilly keeps trying to get her to put herself out there. Louna had an amazing boyfriend but that relationship ended in tragedy. But when Louna meets Ambrose at a wedding, will she be ready to open herself up to new possibilities?
Ames: All right Wena, what did you think of Once and For All.
Rowena: I enjoyed this one. I thought it was a good one to read after coming back from a long Sarah Dessen hiatus. I enjoyed getting to know Louna and while Ambrose was a bit much at times (all of that girl juggling), I still really liked him as a character. I thought he was good for Louna too. The bet was fun and meant to get them both out of their comfort zone, not meant to hurt anyone at all so I was okay with it.
What did you think?
Ames: I had mixed reactions to this. First of all, its been a looooong time since I read Sarah Dessen. Like maybe 3 or 4 years. But having starting this book, I felt like Louna was a ‘typical’ SD heroine – and by the end of the book she really is. However, I liked the world Sarah created for us, with Louna’s wedding planning mom and all that went along with it. I really enjoyed that. And Ambrose was a fun character. I love that he rescued a dog and I agree, the girl juggling was a bit much but he was a great guy underneath it all.
My main complaint comes with the relationship between Ambrose and Louna. Yes they had a bet (that was fun, I liked that) but I honestly didn’t feel any sparks between them. I didn’t see the way Ambrose acted towards her as a guy who was interested. So when the big reveal came at the end? I was like “WTH, for reals?” So I think if there had been a bit more there, I would have believed it more. Also, the way she freaked out? That was over the top for me.
Rowena: Yes, I agree about how interesting the world of wedding planning was and I thought Dessen captured that part of the book really well and you’re definitely right about Louna being a typical Sarah Dessen heroine because I felt the same way about her character. I remember thinking while I was reading the book, “Here we go, another Sarah Dessen heroine that is going to annoy the snot out of me” but in the end, I liked her so it was all good for me. I did think that the whole Ben thing was pretty dumb. Like, really, really dumb.
Other than that though, I could feel the vibes from Ambrose for Louna…or maybe my romance-loving heart pictured it all there because I wanted them to get together? *shrugs* Either way, I still enjoyed this one. Was there anything else that you didn’t care for?
Ames: Seriously, if I hadn’t read the blurb and realized Ambrose was supposed to be the love interest, I wouldn’t have expected it. I felt like William telling Louna that Ambrose was into her even made me realize he was…I honestly didn’t see it before William said something. AND what made Louna different to Ambrose from all the other girls? What made her someone he wanted to commit to instead of just enjoying all the beginning parts of a relationship…I wanted more in regards to that relationship. However, I didn’t hate the book.
I thought Crawford, Jilly’s younger brother, was super cute. The way he called out Jilly for not wanting to spend time with Ben and Louna had me cracking up.
I’m giving Once and For All a 3.75 out of 5. What about you?
Rowena: I thought Ambrose was taken with Louna from the very beginning. I could see his interest in her when she walked right up to him at his Mom’s wedding and dragged him away from that girl he was talking to. He wasn’t used to girls being mad at him, well girls that weren’t related to him so I bought his interest and crush on her from the jump. I think because the entire book is from Louna’s POV, it’s harder to get what Ambrose feels and what he thought. I would have liked Ambrose’s POV.
I adored Crawford and the rest of Jilly’s family. It would have been nice to get more from them as I thought they were more interesting than Louna’s family but all in all, I can’t complain. I enjoyed it all so I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5