AMAZON RATING: 4.2 stars out of 5 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.79 stars out of 5 | MY RATING: 5 out of 5
Since I was a kid, I remember my mom taking me to Borders (RIP) on Saturdays to look for books. I’d head straight for the Young Adult section and spend forever judging books by their covers and back-of-the-book copy, until finally choosing one and devouring it once we returned home. (Shout out to my mom for always encouraging a strong love of books!)
This was how I discovered Sarah Dessen. I picked SOMEONE LIKE YOU up from a shelf at Borders probably sometime around 2004. And… I didn’t like it.
I wasn’t ready for Sarah. But Sarah was there. Waiting.
Months later, bored around the house and looking for something to do, I picked that book up again and decided to re-read the story of Hallie, Scarlett, and the time they had to act like adults long before they were ready. And this time, I had found a new favorite author.
I can’t explain to you why my opinion changed that second time around. But the next time I was at Borders, I picked up another Sarah Dessen book. And the next time… and the next time… before long, I was looking up her release dates and eagerly awaiting her next books, begging to go to the bookstore as soon as they were available.
This story brings me to today’s impromptu, out-of-order review of Sarah Dessen’s latest novel, ONCE AND FOR ALL.
Long story short, this book does not disappoint. Coming from one of the biggest young adult contemporary authors that currently exists, that’s no surprise. One of the things I’ve always loved about Sarah’s books is that while they deal with the normal high school problems that many teens face, she also confronts some of the bigger issues we hope no teens ever have to deal with: homelessness, abandonment, abuse, teen pregnancy and so much more. ONCE AND FOR ALL is no different.
Louna works for her mother’s successful wedding planning business, and she’s just looking forward to starting over now that high school is behind her. She’s surrounded every day with the ideals of true love lasting forever, but there’s just one problem: Louna has already been in love, and it didn’t last forever. In fact, it didn’t last nearly long enough. Ethan’s no longer a part of her life for reasons she finds hard to face and hard to understand. Yes. I’m being purposefully vague.
Along comes Ambrose (who reminds me so much of Dexter from THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER that it’s ridiculous), and the last thing Louna wants to deal with is a clumsy, bumbling optimist who thinks the sun never stops shining and just wants to save dogs. On that last point, I identify with Ambrose on a deep, personal level. 😀
I won’t say which hard-hitting point Sarah uses in this particular book, because I want you to read it yourself, but ONCE AND FOR ALL is worth every second I couldn’t put it down. Every time Ethan was mentioned, I COULD. NOT. STOP. On a side note, does Ethan and Louna’s night on the beach sound a crazy amount like Auden and Eli from ALONG FOR THE RIDE (whom they meet at some point, funnily enough), or is that just me?
I have no complaints. I’m biased. I will never have a complaint against a Sarah Dessen book. Sarah, you have inspired me since I was 12, and others since before that. If I ever write contemporary, I want you to know that you are the reason. ❤
Still coming is a review of COLD SUMMER by Gwen Cole, with an extra little surprise! Let’s hope I can write reviews and stop reading long enough to catch up with myself sometime soon… 🙂