Once and for All (B&N Exclusive Book)

Once and for All (B&N Exclusive Book)

by Sarah Dessen

Hardcover(B&N Exclusive Edition)

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Overview

Once and for All (B&N Exclusive Book) by Sarah Dessen

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425291689
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Edition description: B&N Exclusive Edition
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 82,311
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Sarah Dessen is the author of twelve previous novels, which include the New York Times bestsellers Saint Anything, The Moon and More, What Happened to Goodbye, Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, and This Lullaby. Her first two books, That Summer and Someone Like You, were made into the movie How to Deal.
 
Dessen’s books are frequently chosen for the Teens’ Top Ten list and the list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. They have been translated into twenty-five languages. Sarah Dessen is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult division of the American Library Association, recognizing her significant contribution to young adult literature.
  
Sarah Dessen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with highest honors in creative writing. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine.
 
Visit Sarah at sarahdessen.com. 

Hometown:

Chapel Hill, NC

Date of Birth:

June 6, 1970

Place of Birth:

Evanston, Illinois

Education:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, degree in English.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1
 
WELL, THIS was a first.
 
“Deborah?” I said as I knocked softly, yet still with enough intensity to convey the proper urgency, on the door. “It’s Louna. Can I help you with anything?”
 
According to my mother, this was Rule One in dealing with this kind of situation: don’t project a problem. As in, don’t ask if anything is wrong unless you are certain some­thing is, and as of right now, I was not. Although a bride lock­ing herself in the anteroom of the church five minutes after the wedding was supposed to begin did not exactly bode well.
 
From the other side of the door, I heard movement. Then a sniffle. Again, I wished William, my mother’s partner and the company’s appointed bride whisperer, was here instead of me. But he’d gotten hooked into another crisis involving the groom’s mother taking issue with preceding the bride’s mom down the aisle, even though everyone knew that was how the etiquette went. Work in the wedding business long enough, however, and you learn that everything has the potential to be a problem, from the happy couple all the way down to the napkins. You just never know.
 
I cleared my throat. “Deborah? Can I bring you a water?”
 
It wasn’t ever the true solution, but a water never hurt: that was another one of my mother’s beliefs. Instead of a response, the lock clicked, the door rattling open. I looked down the stairs behind me, praying I’d see William ap­proaching, but no, I was still alone. I took a breath, then picked up the bottle I’d grabbed earlier and stepped inside. Hydration for the win.
 
Our client Deborah Bell (soon to be Washington, ide­ally), a beautiful black girl with her hair in a bun, was sit­ting on the floor of the small room, her fluffy white dress bunched up around her. It had cost five thousand dollars, a fact I knew because she had told us, repeatedly, during the last ten months of planning this day. I tried not to think about this as I moved quickly, but not too quickly, over to her. (“Never run at a wedding unless someone’s life is liter­ally in danger!” I heard my mother say in my head.) I’d just opened up the water when I realized she was crying.
 
“Oh, don’t do that.” I eased down into what I hoped was a professional knees-to-the-side squat, drawing a slim pack of tissues from my pocket. “Your makeup looks great. Let’s keep it that way, okay?”
 
Deborah, one false eyelash already loose—some lies are necessary—just blinked at me, sending another round of tears down her already streaked face. “Can I ask you something?”
 
No, I thought. Now we were at nine minutes. Out loud I said, “Sure.”
 
She took in a shuddering breath, the kind that only comes after you’ve been crying awhile, and hard. “Do you . . .” A pause, as another set of tears gathered and spilled, this time taking the loose eyelash with them. “Do you believe that true love can really last forever?”
 
Now someone was coming up the stairs. From the sound of it, though—large steps, lumbering, with a fair amount of huffing and puffing already audible—it wasn’t William. “True love?”
 
“Yes.” She reached up—God, no! I thought, too late to stop her—rubbing a hand over her eyes and smearing eye­liner sideways up to her temple. The steps behind us were getting louder; whoever they belonged to would be here soon. Meanwhile, Deborah was just looking at me, her eyes wide and pleading, as if whatever happened next hinged entirely on my answer. “Do you?”
 
I knew she wanted a yes or no, something concise and specific and if this were any other question, I probably could have given it to her. But instead, I just sat there, silent, as I tried to put the image in my head—a boy in a white tuxedo shirt on a dark beach, laughing, one hand reached out to me—into any kind of words.
 
“Deborah Rachelle Bell!” I heard a voice boom from be­hind us. A moment later her father, the Reverend Elijah Bell, appeared, fully filling the space of the open doorway. His suit was tight, the shirt collar loosened, and he had a hand­kerchief in one hand, which he immediately pressed to his sweaty brow. “What in the world are you doing? People are waiting down there!”
 
“I’m sorry, Daddy,” Deborah wailed, and then I saw William, finally, climbing the stairs. Just as quickly he dis­appeared from view, though, blocked by the reverend’s girth. “I just got scared.”
 
“Well, get it together,” he told her, stepping inside. Clearly winded, he paused to take a breath or two before continuing. “I spent thirty thousand nonrefundable dollars of my hard-earned money on this wedding. If you don’t walk down that aisle right now, I’ll marry Lucas myself.”
 
At this, Deborah burst into fresh tears. As I put my hand out to her, helplessly patting a shoulder, William managed to squeeze past the reverend and approach us. Calm as always, he didn’t look at me, his eyes on only the bride as he bent close to speak in her ear. She whispered a response as he began to move his hand in slow circles on her back, like you do for a fussy baby.
 
I couldn’t hear anything that was said, only the reverend still breathing. Other footsteps were audible on the stairs now, most likely bridesmaids, groomsmen, and others com­ing to rubberneck. Everyone liked to be part of the story, it seemed. I’d understood this once, but not so much anymore.
 
Whatever William said had made Deborah smile, albeit shakily. But it was enough; she let him take her elbow and help her to her feet. While she looked down at her wrin­kled dress, trying to shake out the folds, he leaned back into the hallway, beckoning down the stairs. A moment later the makeup artist appeared, her tackle box of prod­ucts in hand.
 
“Okay, everyone, let’s give Deborah a second to freshen up,” William announced to the room, just as, sure enough, one bridesmaid and then another poked their heads in. “Rev­erend, can you go tell everyone to take their places? We’ll be down in two minutes.”
 
“You’d better be,” the reverend said, pushing past him to the door, sending bridesmaids scattering in a flash of laven­der. “Because I am not coming up those stairs again.”
 
“We’ll be right outside,” William told Deborah, gesturing for me to follow him. I did, pulling the door shut behind us.
 
“I’m sorry,” I said immediately. “That was beyond my skill set.”
 
“You did fine,” he told me, pulling out his phone. With­out even looking closely, I knew he was firing off a text to my mom in the code they used to ensure both speed and privacy. A second later, I heard a buzz as she wrote back. He scanned the screen, then said, “People are curious but there is a minimum of speculation noise, at least so far. It’s going to be fine. We’ve got the eyelash as an explanation.”
 
I looked at my watch. “An eyelash can take fifteen minutes?”
 
“It can take an hour, as far as anyone down there knows.” He smoothed a wrinkle I couldn’t even see out of his pants, then adjusted his red bow tie. “I wouldn’t have pegged Deb as a cold-feeter. Shows what I know.”
 
“What did she say to you back there?” I asked him.
 
He was listening to the noises beyond the door, alert, I knew, to the aural distinction between crying and get­ting makeup done. After a moment, he said, “Oh, she asked about true love. If I believed in it, does it last. Typical stuff pre-ceremony.”
 
“What did you say?”
 
Now he looked at me, with that cool, confident counte­nance that made him, along with my mom, the best team in the Lakeview wedding business. “I said of course. I couldn’t do this job if I didn’t. Love is what it’s all about.”
 
Wow, I thought. “You really believe that?”
 
He shuddered. “Oh, God, no.”
Just then the door opened, revealing Deborah, makeup fixed, eyelash in place, dress seemingly perfect. She gave us a nervous smile, and even as I reciprocated I was more aware of William, beaming, than my own expression.
 
“You look beautiful,” he said. “Let’s do this.”
 
He held out his hand to her and she took it, letting him guide her down the stairs. The makeup lady followed, sigh­ing only loud enough for me to hear, and then I was alone.
 
Down in the church lobby, my mother would be get­ting the wedding party into position, adjusting straps and lapels, fluffing bouquets, and straightening boutonnières. I looked back into the anteroom, where only a pile of crum­pled tissues now remained. As I hurriedly collected them, I wondered how many other brides had felt the same way in this space, standing on the edge between their present and future, not quite ready to jump. I could sympathize, but only to a point. At least they got to make that choice for themselves. When, instead, it was done for you—well, that was something to really cry about. At any rate, now the or­gan music was rising, things beginning. I shut the door and headed downstairs.
 
My mother picked up her wine. “I’m going to say seven years. Long enough for a couple of kids and an affair.”
 
“Interesting,” William replied, holding his own glass aloft and studying it for a moment. Then he said, “I’ll give it three. No children. But an amicable parting.”
 
“You think?”
 
“I just get that feeling. Those feet were awfully cold, and asking about true love?”
 
My mom considered this. “Point taken. I think you’ll win this one. Cheers.”
 
They clinked glasses, then sat back in their chairs, each taking a solemn sip. After every wedding, when the bride and groom were gone and all the guests dispersed to their homes and hotels, my mom and William had one last ritual. They’d have a nightcap, recap the event, and lay bets on the marriage it produced. Their accuracy in predicting both outcome and duration was uncanny. And, to be honest, a little unsettling.
 
To me, though, the real test was in the departure. There was just something so telling about that moment when every­one gathered to see the bride and groom off. It wasn’t like the ceremony, where people were nervous and could hide things, or the reception, which was usually chaotic enough to blur details. With the leaving, months of planning were behind them, years of a life together ahead. Which was why I’d always made a point of watching their faces so carefully, taking note of fatigue, tears, or flickers of irritation. I didn’t make a wager as much as a wish for them. I always wanted a happy ending for everyone else.
 
Not that the clients would ever know this. It was the secret finish to what was known in our town of Lakeview as “A Natalie Barrett Wedding,” an experience so valued by the newly engaged that both a spot on a waitlist and a huge fee were required to even be considered for one. My mom and William’s price might be high, but they delivered, the results of their work bound in the four thick, embossed leather al­bums in their office sitting room. Each was packed with im­ages of glowing brides and grooms getting married in every way possible: beachside, while barefoot. Lakeside, in black tie. At a winery. On top of a mountain. In their own (gor­geous, styled for the occasion) backyard. There were huge wedding parties and small intimate ones. Many billowing white dresses with trains, and some in other colors and cuts (signs, I’d found, of second or third marriages). The differ­ence between a regular wedding and a Natalie Barrett one was akin to the difference between a pet store and a circus. A wedding was just two people getting married. A Natalie Barrett Wedding was an experience.
 
The Deborah Bell Wedding—it was company policy that we referred to all planned events by the bride’s name, as it was Her Day—was pretty much par for the course for us. The ceremony was at a church, the reception at a nearby hotel ballroom. There were five bridesmaids and five groomsmen, a ring bearer and a flower girl. Their choice of a live band was increasingly rare these days (my moth­er preferred a DJ: the fewer people to wrangle, the better) as was the dinner brought out by waiters (carving stations, buffets, and dessert bars had been more popular for years now). The night had wrapped up with fireworks, an increas­ingly popular request that added a permitting wrinkle but literally a final bang for the client’s buck. Despite the earlier dramatics, Deborah had run to the limo clutching her new husband’s hand, flushed and happy, smile wide. They’d been kissing as the door was shut behind them, to the obvious dis­approval of the reverend, who had then dabbed his own eyes, his wife patting his arm, as the car pulled away. Good luck, I’d thought, as the tail lights turned out of sight. May you al­ways have the answers to each other’s most important questions.
 
And then the wedding was over, for them, anyway. Not for us. First, there was this recap and wager, as well as a final check of the venue for lost items, misplaced wedding gifts, and passed out or, um, otherwise engaged guests (you’d be surprised—I know I always was). Then we would pack our cars with our clipboards and file folders, mending kits, double-stick tape, boxes of Kleenex, spare power strips, phone chargers, and Xanax (yep), and head home. We usually had exactly one day to recover, after which we were right back at the office in front of my mother’s huge whiteboard, where she’d circle the next wedding up and it all began again.
 
Despite how my mom and William joked otherwise—often—they loved this business. For them, it was a passion, and they were good at it. This had been the case long before I’d been old enough to work with them during the sum­mers. As a kid, I’d colored behind my mother’s huge desk while she took meetings with anxious brides about guest lists and seating arrangements. Now I sat alongside them, my own legal pad (in a Natalie Barrett Wedding leather folio, of course) in my lap, taking notes. This transition had always been expected, was basically inevitable. Weddings were the family business, and I was my mother’s only family. Unless you counted William, which really, we did.
 
They had met sixteen years earlier, when I was two years old and my dad had just walked out on us. At the time, my parents had been living in a cabin in the woods about ten miles outside Lakeview. There they raised chickens, had an organic garden, and made their own beeswax candles, which they sold at the local farmers’ market on weekends. My dad, only twenty-two, had a full beard, rarely wore shoes, and was working on a chapbook of environmentally themed po­ems that had been in progress since before I’d even been conceived. My mom, a year younger, was full vegan, waited tables in the evenings at a nearby organic co-op café, and made rope bracelets blessed with “earth energy” on the side. They had met in college, at a campus protest against the public education system, which was, apparently, “oppressive, misogynist, cruel to animals, and evil.” This was verbatim from the flyer I’d found in a box deep in my mother’s closet that held the only things she’d kept from this time in her life other than me. Inside, besides the flyer, was a rather ugly beeswax candle, a rope bracelet that that been her “ring” at her own “wedding” (which had taken place in the mud at an outdoor music festival, officiated by a friend who signed the marriage certificate, also included, only as “King Wheee!”), and a single picture of my parents, both barefoot and tan, standing in a garden holding rakes. I sat on the ground beside my mother’s feet, examining a cabbage leaf, completely na­ked. My name, an original, was a mix of their own, Natalie and Louis. I was Louna.
 
The box in the closet holding these things was small for someone who had once had such big beliefs, and this always made me kind of sad. My mother, however, only reflected on this time of her life when clients wondered aloud if it really was worth spending an obscene amount of money for the wedding of their dreams. “Well, I was married in a mud pit by someone on magic mushrooms,” she’d say, “and I think it doomed us from the start. But that’s just me.” Then she’d pause for a beat or two, giving the client in front of her enough time to try to imagine Natalie Barrett—with her ex­pensive, tailored clothes, perfect hair and makeup, and ever-present diamond earrings, ring, and necklace—as some dirty hippie in a bad marriage. They couldn’t, but that didn’t stop them from signing on the contract’s dotted line to make sure they wouldn’t meet the same fate. Better safe than sorry.
 
In truth, the reason for the demise of my parents’ mar­riage was not the mud pit or the officiant, but my father. Af­ter three years in the woods making candles and “writing his poems” (my mother claimed she never once saw him put pen to paper) he’d grown tired of struggling. This wasn’t surpris­ing. Raised in San Francisco by a father who owned over a dozen luxury car dealerships, he’d not exactly been made for living off the land long term. Ever since he and my mom had exchanged vows, his own father told him that if he left the marriage—and, subsequently, the baby—he’d get a Porsche dealership of his own. My mom already believed that com­merce was responsible for all of life’s evils. When her true love took this offer, it got personal. Three years later, long estranged from us, he was killed in a car accident. I don’t re­member my mother crying or even really reacting, although she must have, in some way. Not me. You don’t miss what you never knew.
 
And I knew my mom, and only my mom. Not only did I look just like her—same features, dark hair, and olive skin—but I sometimes felt like we were the same person. Mostly because she’d been disowned by her own wealthy, elderly parents around the time of the mud pit marriage, so it was always just us. After my dad bailed, she sold the cabin and moved us into Lakeview, where, after bouncing around a few restaurant jobs, she got a position working at the registry department of Linens, Etc., the housewares chain. On the surface, it seemed like a weird fit, as it was hard to find a convention more commerce-driven than weddings. But she had a kid to feed, and in her previous life my mom had been a debutante and taken etiquette classes at the country club. This world might have disgusted her, but she knew it well. Before long, brides were requesting her when they came in to pick out china patterns or silverware.
 
By the time William was hired a year later, my mom had a huge following. As she trained him, teaching him all she knew, they became best friends. There in the back of the store, they spent many hours with brides, listening to them talk—and often complain—about their wedding plan­ning. As they learned which vendors were good and which weren’t, they began keeping lists of numbers for local flo­rists, caterers, and DJs to recommend. This expanded to ad­vising more and more on specific events, and then planning a few weddings entirely. Meanwhile, over lunch hours and after-work drinks or dinner, they started to talk about going out on their own. A partnership on paper and a loan from William’s mother later, they were in business.
 
My mom had a fifty-one share, William forty-nine, and she got her name on the door. But the legalese basically ended there. Whatever foxhole a particular wedding was, they were in it together. They made dreams come true, they liked to tell each other and anyone else who would listen, and they weren’t wrong. This ability never did cross over to their own love lives, however. My mom had barely dated since splitting with my dad, and when she did, she made a point of picking people she knew wouldn’t stick around—“to take the guess­work out of it,” in her words. Meanwhile William, who had been out since about age eight, had yet to meet any man who could come close to meeting his exacting standards. He dealt with this by also leaning toward less than ideal choices with no chance of long-term relationship potential. Real love didn’t exist, they maintained, despite building an entire livelihood based on that very illusion. So why waste time looking for it? And besides, they had each other.
 
Even as a kid, I knew this was dysfunctional. But unfor­tunately, I’d been indoctrinated from a young age with my mom and William’s strong, oft-repeated cynical views on romance, forever, love, and other keywords. It was confusing, to say the least. On the one hand, I lived and breathed the wedding dream, dragged along to ceremonies and venues, privy to meetings on every excruciating detail from Save the
Date cards to cake toppers. But away from the clients and the work, there was a constant, repetitive commentary about how it was a sham, no good men really existed, and we were all better off alone. It was no wonder that a few years ear­lier, when my best friend Jilly had suddenly gone completely boy-crazy, I’d been reluctant to join her. I was a fourteen-year-old girl with the world-weariness of a bitter midlife divorcée, repeating all the things I’d heard over and over, like a mantra. “Well, he’ll only disappoint you, so you should just expect it,” I’d say, shaking my head as she texted with some thick-necked soccer player. Or I’d warn: “Don’t give what you’re not ready to lose,” when she considered, with great drama, whether to confess to a boy that she “liked” him. My peers might have been flirting either in pairs or big groups, but I stood apart, figuratively and literally, the buzz­kill at the end of every rom-com movie or final chorus of a love song. After all, I’d learned from the best. It wasn’t my fault, which did not make it any less annoying.
 
But then, the previous summer, on a hot August night, all of that had changed. Suddenly, I did believe, at least for a little while. The result was the most broken of hearts, made even worse by the knowledge that I had no one to blame for it but myself. If I’d only walked away, said no twice instead of only once, gone home to my bed and left that wide stretch of stars behind when I had the chance. Oh, well.
 
Now my mother downed the rest of her drink and put her glass aside. “Past midnight,” she observed, taking a glance at her watch. “Are we ready to go?”
 
“One last sweep and we will be,” William replied, stand­ing up and brushing off his suit. As a rule, we all dressed for events as if we were guests, but modest ones. The goal was to blend in, but not too much. Like everything in this business, a delicate balance. “Louna, you take the lobby and outside. I’ll check here and the bathrooms.”
I nodded, then headed across the ballroom, now empty except for a few servers stacking chairs and clearing glasses. The lights were bright overhead, and as I walked I could see flower petals and crumpled napkins here and there on the floor, along with a few stray glasses and beer cans. Outside, the lobby was deserted, except for some guy leaning out a half-open door with a cigar, under a NO SMOKING sign.
 
I continued out the front doors, where the night felt cool. The parking lot was quiet as well, no one around. Or so I thought, until I started back in and glimpsed one of Debo­rah’s bridesmaids, a tall black girl with braids and a nose ring—Malika? Malina?—standing by a nearby planter. She had a tissue in her hand and was dabbing at her eyes, and I wondered, not for the first time, what it was about weddings that made everything so emotional. It was like tears were contagious.
 
She looked up suddenly, seeing me. I raised my eye­brows, and she gave me a sad smile, shaking her head: she didn’t need my help. There are times when you intervene and times when you don’t, and I’d long ago learned the dif­ference. Some people like their sadness out in the open, but the vast majority prefer to cry alone. Unless it was my job to do otherwise, I’d let them.

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Once and for All (B&N Exclusive Book) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story really relates to your life if you feel like you're never going to find the right one. Can get a little emotional but it turns out wonderful and leaves you appreciating the little things. Sarah Dessen has done it again!!
thereadingchick 10 months ago
Once and for All took me on a journey into a world of love, loss and friendship. Louna’s one and only love ended abruptly and because she never had the chance to conclude this teenage love she doesn’t know how to move on. When she meets Ambrose she is just disgusted by his good looks, charm, and easy goingness (is that a word?). However, she soon begins to admire that same casual charm. The same things that aggravate her day to day he seems to deal with effortlessly and with a smile on his face. Finally, of course, women LOVE him. He dates multiple women at a time and Louna only goes out when dragged and set up by her best friend. Then one day, standing in line to get coffee, they make a bet. She needs to become a serial dater and he needs to have a relationship for seven weeks. Winner gets to pick the next date for the loser. I liked so many things about this story! We take a parallel journey with Louna as she remembers her previous boyfriend and as she starts to live her life again dating. The use of flashbacks effectively delivered the color of Louna’s emotions in the past as a direct contrast to the dull gray emotional world she is living in now. As she learns to move on her world slowly builds in color until Bam! she realizes how she truly feels about Ambrose and how wonderful life is while living it fully. It was very deftly done, and a really enjoyable novel to read. I want to talk Ambrose for a minute. Did anyone else really dislike him for the first two thirds of the book? I’ll admit, when I started reading I didn’t read the synopsis so I wasn’t sure he was her love interest. It took me a long while to see through that persona into the depths of him. Once I looked hard, I understood where the book was going and then read the synopsis to make sure I was right. Yep! But, I’ll admit I was worried! There were some other great characters in this book. I loved William, the gay father figure with a spine of steel, her best friend Jilly the oldest sister and wrangler to a million little brothers and sisters, and her mom who went through her own metamorphosis right along with her daughter. I understand why this book touched the hearts of so many people and received great reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
AMAZING!!!!! I am a big fan of Sarah Dessen I have read all of her books at least two times each and this book was awesome! Recommend it
Anonymous 11 months ago
I love Sarah Dessen, she's become one of my favorite authors. This book was a great read, and I can say that I've never been disappointed.
Shawscribbles More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful, coming-of-age story. I'm a big Sarah Dessen fan and this book did not disappoint. I loved both Louna and Ambrose and was rooting for a happy ending all the way through. This is a feel good read. Not a heavy-issue, dramatic read but a good light, fun romance. Take it to the beach or give it to a tween or teen who is on spring break. It was everything I expected and I loved it.
AReadingRedSox More than 1 year ago
I’ve read most of Sarah Dessen’s novels, and my favorite has been THIS LULLABY ever since the 8th grade…until ONCE AND FOR ALL rolled around. I absolutely loved this novel. The characters are layered and interesting, and I loved the whirl-wind world of weddings that Dessen based the story in. Heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time, ONCE AND FOR ALL is not to be missed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is definitely one of my favorites??????????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AMAZING storytelling and plot in this book. I loved how detailed and realistic this story was. Also probably read it twice since I got it. HIGHLY recommend if your into a great book with a good romance!
Aditi-ATWAMB More than 1 year ago
I read my first Sarah Dessen book when I was twelve years old. A friend gifted me Along for the Ride for my birthday and the very next morning I was halfway into it. From twelve to almost nineteen, Sarah Dessen’s books are ones I’ve cried over and laughed and fallen in love with as I got to know, time and again, Auden, Eli, Remy, Dexter, Annabel, Owen, Macy, Wes, Ruby and all these other couples that taught me so much. I remember myself over the last seven years through Sarah Dessen’s book, and it’s truly a magical feeling. Which is why, among the BOX FULL OF BOOKS that Penguin India sent me last week, the one I was most excited for was Once and for All. To Sum It Up: Once and for All was the heart wrenching journey of a girl brought up by cynics who are waiting to be proven wrong and trying to figure out if putting your heart out there is worth the risk while managing chaotic weddings and bad first dates. Long Story Short: I LOVED IT. This was definitely one of my top five Sarah Dessen books! Let’s break it Down: WRITING: Sarah has this distinctive, subtle form of writing that I’ve loved since book one that all of a sudden throws these beautiful and true lines at you. I’ve loved this BRILLIANT author’s BRILLIANT writing since I was 12 and I don’t think it’ll ever change. PLOT: The one thing I love about Dessen’s books is that NONE of them are JUST Boy Meets Girl. There is always more to the story that just one romance, often involving a heart breaking personal journey from the girl’s side and it’s ALWAYS SO REAL. It makes me connect with all of her characters in a way I usually don’t and I love it. CHARACTERS: I loved Louna from chapter one. I’m probably like her, a cynic until proven otherwise, scared to let what I’m feeling show. I loved her narration, her story and her fears. I felt, by the first quarter of this book, like I really knew this girl. I also ADORED Jilly, Louna’s best friend, and her whole family. I feel like she deserves her own book. Her story with Ethan broke my heart. It was this romance that just doesn’t happen anymore and BUT IT DID and it was so perfect while not being unreal and GOSH I ALMOST CRIED. My one problem with this book was the romance between Ambrose and Louna. I LOVED THEM AS FRIENDS and also as people but their romance and the “love” between them seemed SO FORCED. CONCLUSION: This book is about Louna moving on from a broken heart and finding a way to give it to someone else AND it’s set with a wedding planning business in the background which gives off its own form of hilarity. I LOVED THIS BOOK YOU GUYS. It will make you laugh and cry and fall in love like only Sarah Dessen can. 4 stars.
SammiiTX More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great complex yet relatable characters
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
As soon as summer hits I always pull out all my favorite contemp authors. And this year is no different. As soon as the calendar changed to June and the weather got hotter, I pulled out my Sarah Dessen! Louna is the daughter of a wedding planner, which means she's seen love at it's best and its worst. Because of this, she has some doubts about love and doesn't believe in wasting her time with anything in between. And then she meets Ambrose who can't even begin to spell commitment. But as things fall into place, they both find more than what they were expecting. What stands out the most in this book was the plot. I LOVED the storyline! It was so easy to get swept away into the world of wedding planning, especially just after my own wedding in April. It was also great to see the rest of the Dessen world like Lakeview and Colby again. Seeing some of the familiar places was nice and made me feel like I was right at home. And of course, I liked the writing style. But really, who wouldn't, I mean it's Sarah Dessen. But even still, I have to remind myself that her books are more of coming of age novels instead of focusing on the romance. This one was no different. And I really loved the surprises in the storyline. I wasn't expecting Louna's past to be that hard, but it really gave a good look into why her character came out that way. Even though I did like it, I think I would have enjoyed this more had I not read This Lullaby right before this. In This Lullaby, there were multiple weddings, an annoying dude, and in classic Dessen fashion, there was only a slight bit of romance, just like this one. While I was reading it I found myself comparing the two and trying to find ways they were similiar. It kinda took away from the story for me. This isn't my favorite Dessen novel, but I still did really like it. I can't wait to spend the rest of the summer reading the rest of her books through #ReadaDessen.
EllenRozek More than 1 year ago
I was expecting and anticipating a story in the vein of a summer romantic comedy, but there was some surprising substance to ONCE AND FOR ALL that I really appreciated. Thanks to her work in the wedding industry as a member of her mom's wedding planning team, Louna is already pretty cynical about true love and the idea of forever. But once you learn that her first love ended in tragedy, her closed off, sometimes cranky approach to romance makes sense. Louna's journey toward letting go of her grief and learning to live with uncertainty in both life and love is almost more rewarding than her journey toward falling in love with someone new. It's entirely possible that I enjoyed this so much because I'm in the process of planning my own wedding, or because I was desperate for a lighter, less serious read. However, ONCE AND FOR ALL is also the kind of quiet, character-driven contemporary YA that caused me to fall in love with Sarah Dessen's work in the first place, so there's that option too. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While nowhere near Sarah Dessen's best book, Once and for All brings all the charm and easy reading that I've come to love in a Dessen novel. Ambrose isn't quite as lovable or endearing as other Dessen male leads and Louna's best friend Gilly is quite frankly annoying but Louna is loveable and it is easy to get invested in her story. The real upside to the novel is the parallel romances between Louna and Ambrose as well as the slow revelation of Louna's last relationship. All in all a good book for easy summer reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always been a fan of Sarah Dessen. I have always loved her feel good romance books. This books have relatable characters and is very relevant to our times. The ending may be predictable but it still makes you feel good in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Calicrissy More than 1 year ago
Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical, since her last few weren't in my top favorites.. This book really redeemed it for me and she wrote some of the situations so well and believably. I would highly recommend this book from her!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Over all the book was really good. Having read all of Sarah Dessen's books I can say that my favorite continues to be The Truth about Forever. Although Dessen's books have started to seem formulaic I still find myself wanting to read them. Noneteless, there is one part in particular that I did not really like the way it was developed, and that is the part of Ambrose's decaration of love at the untimely wedding scene. It just was very rough and not clear. What I mean by this is that Louna's reaction does not follow her character's thoughts up until the point in the scene. As the reader I knew that she had started developing feelings for Ambrose. More importantly I also had strong suspicion that Ambrose was developing feelings for her. However, she always wondered about what Ambrose was feelings and seemed almost unaware of wat readers could see. Basically, I do not feel that the scene aligned with where Louna's character was at the point of the declaration. Thankfully, it came together for a strong ending. Dessen's more realistic take on teenage romance continues, and I can't wait to read her next book.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
This is only my second try at a Sarah Dessen book, but I doubt I'm going to try any others. Don't get me wrong, it was heartfelt and lovely, just like everyone says, but I don't think they're for me. I liked Louna well enough. She's got one hell of a backstory and those flashbacks were some of my favorite parts. I enjoyed the dynamic between Louna's mom and William and Louna. As for Ambrose, he's quirky and delightful and the much needed levity. I did struggle with this story and yet somehow I kept reading it. Things moved too slow and there was more heartbreak and sadness than what I was expecting. I am 100% certain I will be in the minority. **Huge thanks to Viking for providing the arc free of charge**
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
?????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to read this book so bad. I own all of her other books and was so happy to see this book came iut today!!!!!!!!!!!!!