And this time, I’d say yes – Sarah Dessen.
What was the very first thing you did in 2018? Was it open your eyes, groan and roll over, covering your head in a pit of nausea? Go for a winter morning walk, breathing in all of that fresh, crisp new year air? Eat something, quickly. For me, this year, I woke up fresh as a daisy and picked up a new book from my relocated (and organised) bookshelf, and began to read.
Before I had even opened any of the books I’d received for Christmas, I went to Waterstones and bought two more. It is a bit of an issue I am trying to cut down this year. That being said, I’ve been in a Sarah Dessen mood since before Christmas. Her books lift me up and make me smile, so it seemed the perfect type to begin a brand new year with.
Once And For All is a story about love, loss, and finding love once more. It couldn’t reflect my own thoughts enough, although Louna’s story is much more tragic than my own. She is in the wedding business; her mum and adoptive step-father-but-not-really own the most successful wedding planning business in Lakeview. Everything is perfection at every single wedding, leaving no room for mishaps, which of course means that a bulldozer in the form of handsome girl magnet, Ambrose, is needed to liven things up for both the business and Louna’s life.
Louna has had her big love – her one perfect night – which was taken away from her, giving her absolutely no interest in the dating field. She steers herself away from the graduation parties, the social antics that the summer after high school brings; but Ambrose, in his way, pushes her back out there, making her laugh more than anyone, even though she still finds him the most annoying person on the planet. Everyone in the novel, and the reader, sees the sunset ending a mile off, but it is the in-between that really tells the poignant story of Louna.
Once And For All is possibly my new favourite Sarah Dessen novel. I read the entre book within four or five hours, stopping only for a shower and a chocolate refuelling. I laughed and giggled at the sarcastic exchanges between Natalie (Louna’s mum) and William (Louna’s godfather) whilst they drank champagne and betted how long each marriage would last “I’m going to say seven years. Long enough for a couple of kids and an affair” and rolled my eyes at the cheekiness of Ambrose, but ultimately loved his character more than anyone else.
When I wasn’t laughing, my heart sank at the moments of loss that Louna felt, which was sometimes a mixture of happiness and sadness as I read her meeting with Ethan, her first love. Everything was perfect, or tinged with that perfected sunset glow that we all look through when we think of all the happy times once a relationship is over, one way or another. What was the best thing, as a reader, was seeing Louna’s character grow as she accepted her loss and took a chance on life again, because that is all we can do in life. Take chances. Live as there is no tomorrow.
As the first book of 2018, I picked a great story. Sometimes, books come at a time when you need them most and I needed to read this book, just for the laugh-out-loud moments more than anything else. In truth, it helped a little bit – as all stories and interpretations of family, friendship and love should. As soon as I finished the final page, I wanted to start it all over again immediately. If that doesn’t illustrate how much enjoyment I got from this book, I don’t know what else will.
Are you a fan of Sarah Dessen? Have you read Once And For All? Is it one of your favourites?
Love, Faye xo