Dessen’s book both ‘heartbreaking and hopeful’

Caitlyn, a student Page at the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries’ Napanee Branch, recently enjoyed the young adult novel Once and For All by Sarah Dessen.

“This novel is by turns heartbreaking and hopeful,” she says.

“The first of Dessen’s novels to follow a before/after pattern of chapters, it explores the life of Louna Barrett and her wedding-planning mother. Being around happily-ever-after’s for most of your life is enough to turn any girl cynical, especially since her mother and her partner make jokes about how long it’ll last after every wedding. Somehow, Louna has yet to make up her own mind about the fabled, always elusive, happily-ever-after, especially after her own experience the summer before, and everything that came after.”

“Ambrose is completely different from the typical Dessen-hero, as he’s been around the block a couple of times,” explains Caitlyn.

“But he’s not a thoughtless player who wants nothing more than a simple one-night stand. Instead, he’s just charming. Endearing. Entirely too easy to fall for with his golden-boy looks and puppy-dog-like attitude.

“Forever an optimist, he challenges Louna to break out of her shell. After the tragedy that upended her whole life, Louna needs someone to help her move on and along, not stay stuck in the same old wedding monotony.

“Having someone as occasionally clueless as Ambrose can be forces Louna into feeling something, at least, where for the past year she’s just been going through the motions, unable to move forward. When misunderstanding rips the two of them apart, they must find their way back to each other before they lose each other forever.

“For everyone who missed Sarah Dessen like crazy, this will fill the nick in your heart,” Caitlyn concludes. “Be prepared for fresh, funny, and new. Also, have a tissue box on hand. You’re going to need it.”

You can reserve Once and For All  in print, e-book or e-audiobook at you branch of the County of Lennox and Addington Libraries or online at

Catherine Coles is the manager of library services for L&A County.

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