Once and For All

Once and For All

Sarah Dessen is the previously unknown to me queen of YA (apparently). With multiple books published, her stories are hailed as reaching deep into the heart of what it means to be a teenager in love, even transporting us older folk enjoying her books back into our “glory days.”

I will give her this: she checks all the boxes. Withdrawn protagonist with a cooky friend who tries to pull her out of her reverie. Unexpected love with enough romance to gag a sunrise. Another unexpected love that is repulsive, yet strangely attractive. And tragedy that has bruised the protagonist so that she might never love again. Plus high school graduation I guess? Literally nothing happens at the high school except in the occasional flashback chapter hat reveals the tragedy that has formed our poor Louna’s current state.

The old Louna can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because she’s dead. Or, more accurately, because her one night love turned boyfriend turned long-distance relationship was killed in a school shooting. I know. I KNOW.

The comedic relief comes through her mom and godfather as the three of them run the wedding planning business that her mom and William (the godfather) set up. I won’t go into their backstories here, but just know that they are perfect together, but not for each other, and it is fun watching a high money wedding come together from behind the scenes.

One of these high money weddings brings Ambrose into their world, the younger brother of a client who is probably ADD and a chronic flirt who is hired by the wedding business to work getting coffee and doing small things to get him out of the bride’s hair (for an additional fee of course). Louna hates him, until she doesn’t. They make a bet that he can’t stick to one girl, and she can’t date several guys (at least one a week) and whomever loses gets to pick who the other dates. Ambrose is not aware of the deceased Ethan, and this fact causes some problems down the line.

I read this book in one day. Granted it was Monday, September 11th, a day after the hurricane blustered through, leaving us without power or internet so I had some time on my hands, but you could easily blow through these 350 pages in a couple of days. You will see it all coming, there are no spoilers or surprises. I suppose that’s what makes Dessen at the top of her craft; she knows what her audience wants and gives it to them without going to the extreme on any one trope. She’s the James Patterson or Dean Koontz of her genre: you know you’ll get a good read, you know what to expect, but it won’t necessarily blow your socks off.

Now, I plan to read one or two more of her books so that this opinion can ripen a bit, but at this point my instincts are pretty good about this kind of thing and you, dear reader, know that I am not afraid to say when I am wrong. So if you have suggestions on what book of hers I should read next, leave those in the comments, and I will try her one or two more times to see if I’m right.

Would I recommend this book? Sure. It’s a nice, easy read. Good for the beach or a plane ride.

Dessen’s writing style is lovely and there weren’t really any details left out that made me say something like “well what about…?” It’s a comfort pillow of a book that is well written and you will enjoy it. Walk, don’t run though. It’ll still be there when you’re ready.