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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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.…

Once and for All

by Sarah Dessen

Overall Book Review:

Dubbed the queen of YA contemporary fiction, author Sarah Dressen adds another notch to her belt with her latest work, Once and For All.

Working in the wedding business isn’t all roses, just ask female protagonist Louna. Dedicated to her mother’s wedding planning empire has left Louna cynical about happily- ever-afters and counting down the days until she can head to college.

When Ambrose enters her life as an annoying colleague, she is sure she has him all figured out–an overly cocky womanizer, who is not going to win her over anytime soon, or ever, as far as Louna is concerned.

As Louna narrates the novel, she goes back and forth between her present circumstances and a past relationship that ended tragically.

The interaction between Louna and Ambrose is a romantic comedy with laugh out loud moments and funny banter, which unfortunately gets dragged down with Louna’s painful back-story, that felt melodramatic and a bit bizarre in what seemed to be a light-hearted novel. The narrative turns from a Sophia Kinsella read to a Nicholas Sparks story, raining on what I thought was a frolicsome summer beach book.

At times the book seemed to be written by a first time writer rather than a seasoned author. With immense cliches, predictable incidents, last minute conflict, and did I mention that erratic backstory? Still, you can’t deny that Dressen does conjure tender emotions that leave the reader a bit teary-eyed yet gleeful.

Because of the language and mature subject matter (see content review below), I would not recommend this to younger readers, although they would have relished the entertaining antics which are scattered throughout the novel.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Viking Books for Young Readers

Review of an Advance Reader Copy

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 32 religious exclamations; 8 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 9 scatological words; 5 anatomical terms; 2 f-words; swear word in anagram form not tallied. 

Violence/Gore: Report of a parent dying in an accident; male accidentally falls; few jokes involving violence; report of high school shooting resulting in deaths (mentioned few times throughout novel); report of a car accident.  

Sex/Nudity: Speculation about future infidelity; married couple kiss; mention of adult male being a homosexual; homosexual(s) and heterosexual(s) date; many instances of teens kissing/making out and holding hands; extended scene (about ½ page) teens have non-explicit sex; teen female compares chest sizes; comment about adult couple’s procreation habit; female admires male’s good looks; male stumbles, accidentally grabbing female’s breasts; character sees couple dancing inappropriately; comment on female’s breasts; male forcibly kisses female groping her; joke about being naked; teens declare their love for one another; homosexual adult males flirt; reference to male genitalia.

Mature Subject Matter:

Teen drinking, teen sex, violent death. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults and teens smoke and drink at parties (multiple times); a few drug references.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.