Summer of Love Buddy Read: Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Posted July 16, 2021 by Lillian in Reviews / 0 Comments

Throughout Summer of Love Lenore, Stephanie, and I will be buddy reading six books and sharing our reviews. The three adult books will be reviewed separately on each of our blogs while the three YA books* will be co-reviews featured here on Mom with a Reading Problem. Read along with us and join the discussion. Schedule below ๐Ÿ™‚

SO we may have bit off more than we could chew and have edited the schedule above to reflect ๐Ÿ˜‰ We will have at least one more buddy read before the end of the event.

Today is our second buddy read of the event. We’re a few days late, my fault. Y’all, I’m sorry! We spent the last few days reading Once and For All by Sarah Dessen. This was our first YA contemporary of the event. Have you read it? Discuss with us below!

*Spoilers may be present in review, though every effort was made to remove them*

Summer of Love Buddy Read: Once and For All by Sarah DessenOnce and For All by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on 2017-06-06
Length: 363 pages
Reviewing Paperback from My Book Shelf
Reading Challenges: COYER 2021

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessenโ€™s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everythingโ€”humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen is a sweet, YA contemporary about grief and finding yourself again. Our emotions were all over the place for this book, definitely recommend tissues while reading ๐Ÿ˜‰ After losing her boyfriend, Louna has become cynical about love and relationships. With college looming and a bet with her new co-worker, she is ready to step back into life, one date at a time. With quirky, true-to-life characters set during the summer wedding season, Once and For All is a perfect summer read.

What We Liked:
We all agreed on loving Louna and her journey during this book. Told exclusively from her POV, the story centers on Louna’s last summer before college. She is learning to live life again and appreciate it more fully after the sudden loss of her long-distance boyfriend.

I really love the way Dessen writes characters….they feel very real and with lots to them.


I liked the back and forth between present and past. It eased us into loving Ethan, knowing he was already gone and how it shaped Louna.

It helped us to know why Louna is the way that she is. It also really put into perspective one of my biggest fears: loving someone new after a devastating loss.

What Left Us Wanting More:
Ambrose….we all agreed that we liked Ambrose, but felt cheated. This book really does focus mostly on Louna. Ambrose is in the background and there, but we don’t get much of his story or his past. We also don’t get much on page romance with him and Louna, and as we were all expecting romance, this fell short.


I liked Ambrose, but I would’ve loved to see more of them together.

Yeah, these are less romance, and more Louna’s journey. I was bummed that we didn’t get a bit more. But I’m glad we got her love story with Ethan, even if it was tinged with sadness.

I was going to say 4.5 but couldn’t justify why I felt that way. It was the lack of Ambrose and her page time. Also Jilly. Like their besties but don’t spend a ton of time together.

Final Thoughts:
We all agreed that we enjoyed it. Stephanie gave it five stars, Lenore 4.5, and I gave it 4 stars. We all discussed reading more from Sarah Dessen, though we agreed that we needed something lighthearted after this emotional read.

I really love how freaking quirky the characters are, how unique. How many lives you can see living in the background. I loved that her mom and William got a happy ending…that made me so happy.

About Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, including The Truth About Forever, Just Listen and This Lullaby. Her work has been published in over thirty countries and sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature. Her latest novel, The Rest of The Story, is now available in paperback.

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