There’s nothing better than hearing that one of your favorite authors has a new book coming out. But what if that book doesn’t live up to your expectations? And even worse, what if you actually hate the book?
I’ve had a long history with Sarah Dessen. I’ve gobbled up everything she’s written about her little Carolina Beachtown universe, and have always anxiously awaited whatever comes next from her. And so it was with Once and for All. I waited and waited on the library list for weeks and months for it to finally be my turn. I was excited when l got the email saying I was finally next. And then.
Well, and then I read it.
And even though I didn’t really like it as I was reading, I held out hope that it would get better. But it didn’t. It got worse.
And now I feel betrayed. How dare one of my favorite authors write something that I didn’t like!
Here’s the deal:
Louna (just no with that name) just graduated from high school. She works for her mother’s extremely exclusive and popular wedding planning service and is very good at it. She has high expectations for everything in her life — from weddings to personal relationships.
It’s been a year since her last relationship — things with her first love, Ethan, didn’t end well (ooh, a mystery!). But her best friend Jilly and new (and annoying but handsome) wedding employee Ambrose keep putting her out there, trying to get her back out in the dating world.
Seriously, I’m going to wreck all of the surprises here. So don’t read if you don’t want to know.
Ethan — the great love of her life — is dead. He was killed in a school shooting. Which, sure. I’m ok with Dessen using current events and social issues to influence her characters. But what I’m not ok with is the nature of their relationship in the first place. Louna and Ethan only spent one single night together and then texted and face timed for a few months before he died. This whole “one perfect night” situation was absolutely ridiculous and I didn’t buy any of it for a minute. They met, talked, walked, had sex, ate pie, and then Ethan went home to New Jersey, calling and texting her 900 times a day, and immediately changing all of his social media to “in a relationship”. I found Ethan’s behavior to be creepy and needy, not amazing and loving.
This was a huge problem for me. I can’t get past it.
Also, I really didn’t want Ambrose and Louna to end up together. It was obvious from the moment he was introduced that they would, but I wasn’t excited about it and it bugged me how they both strung other people along because they were so stubborn. I was steaming mad at how they treated their other romantic interests, especially the cute coffee guy. Sure, he’s a pretentious writer, but he’s also a friend and she treated him like absolute crap.
This book was trying to be super romantic — But it simply fell flat for me. And now I don’t know what to do about future Sarah Dessen books. This might have soured me for all time.