Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: "Once and for All" by Sarah Dessen

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.

Many thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I was sooooo excited to have my wish granted through Netgalley and receive a copy of this book to review!  I've only read two other Dessen titles - one I rated two stars, and one I rated four - but I've been wanting to read more as I'm on a bit of a contemporary YA kick.  I was hoping "Once and For All" would give me some sweet swoony times and a storyline with a bit of meat to it, and for the most part, I'd say this book delivered just that.

Starting with Louna, I would say she's introverted, not necessarily shy but not overly outgoing either. She's very cautious romantically, being brought up surrounded by her mother's and William's attitudes - not exactly flattering to men!  (On a bit of a sidebar, I am not loving her name, and here's why: I had a great aunt in Australia, who I never actually met, and her name was "Luna". My mom said she was "crazy" and whenever I hear that name, I think of "Loony Luna"! It's a good thing this book is told in first person, so I didn't have to read Louna's name on the page very often, otherwise I'd be thinking "Loony Louna" the whole way through!)  

Ambrose is pretty much Louna's exact opposite. He seems hyper to me - maybe he has ADHD? He's definitely annoying, but he knows it and kind of owns it. He's charismatic, charming, spontaneous, caring, and pays attention. All great things, but Louna doesn't trust the chemistry between them because he flirts with EVERYONE! Everyone loves him, and he loves everyone, too, so why should Louna be the special one who wins his heart? I don't blame her one bit for being apprehensive about him.

And then there's Louna's backstory. Oh my goodness, so heartbreaking! I was really surprised at how the flashbacks pulled me in so much. Dessen unfolds everything so gradually, I was turning the pages frantically to find out what really happened, and, well, sigh. Things sucked, I'll say that much. Can't give anything more away, because spoilers, but I hated what happened there, ugh.

Back to Louna and Ambrose. They start off as...well, I was going to say friends, but it was really less than that. Let's just say they were forced to work together, and eventually, they did become friends. Then comes the bet: Louna will try dating freely, as freely as Ambrose does, at least three dates a week, for two months (I think). Ambrose will try the opposite: date one girl exclusively for two months. The person to win the bet gets to choose the next date for the other. I remember thinking that the terms of this bet would be equally difficult for both to stick to: Louna hasn't gone on a date in a year, for reasons that soon become apparent, and Ambrose has never dated a girl more than two or three times, if memory serves.  Maybe neither of them would succeed! I guess you'll just have to read "Once and for All" yourself to see how things work out.

Oh, and one more thing I loved about this book: the weddings! I remember planning my own wedding, and thinking that being a wedding planner would possibly be the best job in the world. That far fetched dream never came to fruition, and after reading this book, I'm rather glad it didn't - seems a bit more stressful than I'd envisioned! But if you've ever wondered what that type of job would be like, or if you are just a fan of weddings in general, than you won't be disappointed with this title. 

My rating:  

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