Friday YA: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Louna is working her final summer before she goes off to college as an assistant in her mothers bridal planning business. Growing up in the midst of bridal madness has given her a rather jaded view of true love and the one relationship she’d had ended tragically. When she spots Ambrose, the gorgeous son of a client, she distantly notes his looks but is disgusted with his laissez faire attitude towards life as she has to reign him in to walk his mother down the aisle. He is a fly in the ointment of her life, and she is the challenge he is determined to win. When her mother hires him for the summer, Louna’s animosity towards Ambrose disappears but she is still afraid to let go and live.

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. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Once and For All

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Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

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