Friday, February 7, 2020

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen-- Felt Like It Was Written On Auto-Pilot

Once and for All

Louna is the daughter of a successful wedding planner (Natalie Barrett).  She lives weddings, but love??  Love has not been great to Louna or her mother.  Louna has lived through a tragedy and her mom has been super jaded ever since her own marriage fell apart.

Ambrose is a guy who doesn't like commitment.  When he's forced to commit to helping the Barretts with wedding season, he can't help but be intrigued by Louna's flight response when it comes to feelings.

When Louna and Ambrose make a bet to see who can get past their issues (Ambrose by dating ONE girl, and Louna by dating in general), things start getting interesting...

First the good: Isn't that cover lovely??  I love the colors and the simplicity.  Very pretty and a nice addition to my shelves.

Now what I really think: This book is not good.  It's not up to standards that Sarah Dessen has set with her volume of work.  It's also her last book with Penguin... is that a coincidence??  This certainly felt like she phoned it in, and maybe she did.

It startled me a bit in the beginning with a school shooting being a part of the story (there’s no scenes of the shooting and the person recalling it was multiple states away when it occurred). This felt way out of Sarah’s norm and I was hopeful that this story would be unique and show her pushing herself a little. But no, it reverted back to the same story of the same uptight, non-personality girl and the guy that is sickeningly nice but flawed. Once again, the best friend and side characters shined in this book (which is the one part I really, really loved). William, the mother's business partner, especially was a needed part of this book.

I didn’t get the appeal of Louna for Ambrose or Ambrose for Louna. The only reason I can come up with for Ambrose being interested in Louna was that he likes a challenge.  She was in no way his type.  She wasn't fun, she wasn't interesting.  She was just a girl who was sad.  And who wants to try a serious relationship with someone who cannot do serious? How is someone who flirts with every girl and wants to date everyone at the same time attractive?  Why try to change someone like that?

I did like the familiarity of this book in the way that it felt homey— as in it reminded me of reading other Dessen books. But there wasn’t enough originality to push it into a LOVE category for me. It was very: insert mom with x career, insert main character facing a loss, insert boy who isn’t available but will be someday because the main character is just so special.

OVERALL: Just not this author’s best by any stretch.  She phoned it in.

Date Published: 6/6/2017
How I got this book: I got it as a gift AND I listened to the audio from the library
Publisher: Viking Books/Penguin

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 3/5

Character: Jilly Baker
Book: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

  • Jilly would totally relate to the Garrett's chaotic life with all those kids.


  1. I felt like a black sheep when I read this book, but when all was revealed, as to why Louna was the way she was, my heart broke. I thought the wedding antics were a lot of fun too.

    1. There were some cool elements in this book-- and it was pretty shocking to me that SD included a school shooting in one of her books. I just felt like I had met these exact characters in other books of hers.

  2. I think this was my first Dessen book, and I was a little disappointed. The inclusion of the school shooting had me kind of shook, and it didn't really sit well with me that this young girl was so convinced that he had been her only love and she'd never experience it again.

    1. Yeah, it wasn't her best. If you haven't read THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER yet, I'd recommend that one. I think it's her best.

  3. This is by far my least favorite Dessen novel! It felt so lackluster, but then I read her newest book The Rest of the Story and it was MUCH better!

    1. I totally agree!! I was pleasantly surprised about THE REST OF THE STORY. It felt very HER, but also fresh. I appreciated that it wasn't like this one at least!!