Clover Book Club: Once and for All
With 28 published novels to her name, Sarah Dessen is pretty much synonymous with her specific brand of romantic-but-not-cringey, dramatic-but-not-eyerolly novels. Her latest, Once and for All, is no exception. The book follows a heartbroken girl working for her family’s wedding planning business—so needless to say, it’s serious rom-com material. Fortunately, this protagonist is much more relatable than Jennifer Lopez, though the main dude does give some Matthew McConaughey vibes, now that we think of it.
Since we’re obviously head over heels for Once and for All, we sent a few copies to Clover readers for our latest IRL book club. See what they thought below!
Colleen Dupirak, 17
I’ve been reading Sarah Dessen since the beginning of middle school. In other words, if you know me, you know I love a good Sarah Dessen book. As I approach my senior year, I will still always make time for her new novels; it’s refreshing to read books about love that aren’t cheesy.
Once and for All depicts 18-year old Louna as a young woman who’s suffered a broken heart. Because of this, she’s kept herself guarded from love. That is, until Ambrose enters her life and we get to see the trials and tribulations of their budding relationship. Ambrose tries desperately to win over Louna, but she pushes him away while she’s still healing from her first love, Ethan. Eventually she ends up making a deal with him—one that’s pretty unheard of when you are falling for someone.
While we indulged in some book club snacks (thanks, guys!), my friends and I discussed everything; we especially loved how there were many unexpected turns in the storyline. We agreed this was one of Sarah Dessen’s best novels, since it felt so relatable. Who hasn’t dealt with breakups? You have so much going on in your head as a teen, and you don’t know if you are coming or going. This is how we saw Louna; she’s a girl who wasn’t in the best frame of mind and wanted to protect her heart. As for Ambrose, we all agreed that he was the stereotypical f*ckboi—always flirting, yet is somehow shocked when a girl turns him down. Every single one of us has had an experience (or two) with guys like him.
Bottom line? Sarah’s done it again. I’m already waiting for the next one!
Reilly Brady, 18
Once I became invested in the plot of Once and for All, it kept me on the edge of my seat. This novel is especially good for anyone who enjoys wedding planning and romance. And honestly, who doesn’t? My friend Abby agreed. “I have read more than my fair share of romance novels, but this one felt unique because of the contrast between the characters, all offset by the drama and excitement of the wedding industry,” she said. “I really commend Dessen for her ability to tie in current events in a way that pulls intense emotions from the reader.”
Mary Rose, who was also at the book club, loved reading about how Louna slowly opened her heart and took another chance after experiencing a horrific tragedy. “It shows how you don’t forget the awful event, but can come to terms with it.” I fell in love with the main male character Ambrose’s silliness and adoration of the heroine.
Finally, my friend Jen thought Once and for All made a compelling page-turner. “It was an easy read, which was perfect since I read it on the beach.” If my friends’ endorsements aren’t enough, take it from me: I would not only recommend this novel, I’ll also find myself rereading it at some point in the future.