Sarah Dessen has been my favorite author since I was fourteen. I’ve read all of her books and get the new ones as quickly as I can. Her latest, Once and For All, is obviously written by a different person, a Sarah Dessen who’s grown and is reacting to the world around her.
Louna has seen a lot of marriages come and go, courtesy of her mother’s wedding planning business. But its hard to believe in true love because, if you only get one, she’s already lost her chance. But Ambrose believes in second chances and wishes, and he hopes to make Louna believe in them too.
I enjoyed Once and For All, though the quality after the magic of her writing in Saint Anything was slightly disappointing. It is clear she used this writing to work through her grief about recent news events. I don’t fault her for this – it’s what writing is for – but it did affect the story’s cohesion.
The chapters alternated between the main story and flashbacks of Louna’s life before. It worked for Louna’s character, revealing crucial information about her past in a format that allowed the reader to know her as she is and what made her that way. It shows the ways tragedy can affect a person.
Unfortunately, trying to write two love stories in one book distracted from the main plot. Neither romance was as immersive as most of her books are.
Despite this, the characters are as charming as ever, including William, Louna’s mother’s gay business partner, and Louna’s best friend Jilly. I mention them by name because they were my favorites, and every scene they appear in feels like hanging out with a friend.
Overall, I did enjoy Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All…I just wouldn’t recommend it as anyone’s first Dessen novel.