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.


Song For This Book: Marry You by Bruno Mars 
Why? This song fits too well with the whole wedding theme of the book.


I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Reading Sarah Dessen’s books is like taking a trip down memory lane for me. I spent most of my teen years reading these books and every new one is like visiting home again. So when I heard that Dessen was coming out with another book, I couldn’t wait to dive in and see what she had for us this time.

Once and For All is a lighthearted, summery read that will definitely play to the romantic inside of you. You get caught up in the world of weddings and organizing weddings, dating games, and fun friend and family relationships that leave you racing to the end to see if the main couple in the book actually get together or if they’re bent on making each other miserable. It’s one of those books that will be perfect in your beach bag.

The Good Points of Once and For All:

As always, Dessen’s characters are fantastic. They’re always so well rounded and developed, and it’s easy to feel like you know them so well by half way through the book. Louna and Ambrose were both wonderfully complex characters, and I loved their issues and how they both interacted with each other’s issues.

I love how Dessen brings back the characters in her previous books for cameos in her new ones. It’s always nice to see how old friends are doing.

I love the wedding planning stuff throughout this book. It’s not something we see too often in YA literature, and it was such a fun setting to explore. I don’t know much about that particular profession, so I can’t comment on how accurate the representation was. But I can say it was fun.

I love the way that Dessen handles her flashbacks and how she introduces us to Louna’s past and Ethan. It never feels confusing or out of place, but rather makes perfect sense within the story.

The Downsides of Once and For All:

I found that I didn’t particularly care about the romance in this novel, either Louna’s and Ambrose or Louna and Ethan. I’m not sure why, because they were well written and well developed, but I just didn’t have any interest in them. I would have liked a few more moments between Louna and Ambrose at least. Maybe that would have helped.

The ending felt super rushed, like the author forgot that she had things to accomplish by the end and hurried to get them finished in a few pages.

While I did enjoy this book, this is a pretty generic Dessen book. None of the characters were particularly unique or would stand out in a crowd, and the story was nothing overly unique either. It’s a fun read, but nothing new.

All in all, I did really enjoy this book. It’s a light, fun read that is so perfect for the upcoming warm weather, or if you’re looking for something that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s not the most unique book out there, and it’s not one of Dessen’s best, but it’s fun. If you love weddings, cynical love stories, or perfect beach reads, you should definitely check out Once and For All.

Buy it on Book Depository

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10 thoughts on “Review: Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

  1. Nice review! I just finished reading this today and I loved it 🙂
    The Truth About Forever has been my favorite Dessen book for a long, long time, but Saint Anything and now Once And For All have come pretty close to stealing that top spot!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you liked this one! I did love the wedding planning element. Weddings are great settings for all kinds of novels. I didn’t really care for the insta-love element or the predictability, but other than that, I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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