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Once and for All
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Once and for All
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From Sarah Dessen, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of SAINT ANYTHING and JUST LISTEN, comes a new novel set in the world of wedding planning!Is it really better to have loved and lost?...
From Sarah Dessen, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of SAINT ANYTHING and JUST LISTEN, comes a new novel set in the world of wedding planning!Is it really better to have loved and lost?...
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  • From Sarah Dessen, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of SAINT ANYTHING and JUST LISTEN, comes a new novel set in the world of wedding planning!

    Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna's summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happy-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged now that he's met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna's second chance is standing right in front of her.


    Sarah Dessen's many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily ever after.

 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book CHAPTER 1

    WELL, THIS was a first.

    "Deborah?" I said as I knocked softly, yet still with enough intensity to convey the proper urgency, on the door. "It's Louna. Can I help you with anything?"

    According to my mother, this was Rule One in dealing with this kind of situation: don't project a problem. As in, don't ask if anything is wrong unless you are certain some­thing is, and as of right now, I was not. Although a bride lock­ing herself in the anteroom of the church five minutes after the wedding was supposed to begin did not exactly bode well.

    From the other side of the door, I heard movement. Then a sniffle. Again, I wished William, my mother's partner and the company's appointed bride whisperer, was here instead of me. But he'd gotten hooked into another crisis involving the groom's mother taking issue with preceding the bride's mom down the aisle, even though everyone knew that was how the etiquette went. Work in the wedding business long enough, however, and you learn that everything has the potential to be a problem, from the happy couple all the way down to the napkins. You just never know.

    I cleared my throat. "Deborah? Can I bring you a water?"

    It wasn't ever the true solution, but a water never hurt: that was another one of my mother's beliefs. Instead of a response, the lock clicked, the door rattling open. I looked down the stairs behind me, praying I'd see William ap­proaching, but no, I was still alone. I took a breath, then picked up the bottle I'd grabbed earlier and stepped inside. Hydration for the win.

    Our client Deborah Bell (soon to be Washington, ide­ally), a beautiful black girl with her hair in a bun, was sit­ting on the floor of the small room, her fluffy white dress bunched up around her. It had cost five thousand dollars, a fact I knew because she had told us, repeatedly, during the last ten months of planning this day. I tried not to think about this as I moved quickly, but not too quickly, over to her. ("Never run at a wedding unless someone's life is liter­ally in danger!" I heard my mother say in my head.) I'd just opened up the water when I realized she was crying.

    "Oh, don't do that." I eased down into what I hoped was a professional knees-to-the-side squat, drawing a slim pack of tissues from my pocket. "Your makeup looks great. Let's keep it that way, okay?"

    Deborah, one false eyelash already loose—some lies are necessary—just blinked at me, sending another round of tears down her already streaked face. "Can I ask you something?"

    No, I thought. Now we were at nine minutes. Out loud I said, "Sure."

    She took in a shuddering breath, the kind that only comes after you've been crying awhile, and hard. "Do you . . ." A pause, as another set of tears gathered and spilled, this time taking the loose eyelash with them. "Do you believe that true love can really last forever?"

    Now someone was coming up the stairs. From the sound of it, though—large steps, lumbering, with a fair amount of huffing and puffing already audible—it wasn't William. "True love?"

    "Yes." She reached up—God, no! I thought, too late to stop her—rubbing a hand over her eyes and smearing eye­liner sideways up to her temple. The steps behind us were getting louder; whoever they belonged to would be here soon. Meanwhile, Deborah was just looking at me, her eyes wide and pleading, as if whatever happened next hinged entirely on my answer. "Do you?"

    I knew she wanted a yes or no, something concise and specific and if this were any other question, I probably could...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 24, 2017
    Seventeen-year-old Louna was in love once, but it ended in tragedy when her long-distance boyfriend, Ethan, was killed in a school shooting. Louna has since stopped believing she will find love again, though she is surrounded by constant reminders of it: she works for her mother’s successful, high-end wedding-planning business. When Louna’s mother temporarily hires Ambrose, the gorgeous but unpredictable son of a client, Louna is charged with making sure that Ambrose doesn’t make their summer weddings any more difficult. Dessen’s fans will revel in the familiarity of her steady, empathic writing, as well as her attention to detail—particularly the painstaking care Louna and her mother devote to every aspect of a wedding, including their nervous and tightly wound clients—and the emotionally layered characters that populate her story. Dessen (Saint Anything) include a hint of romance between Louna and Ambrose, but this novel is more about grief and recovery. Flashbacks of Louna’s relationship with Ethan, interspersed among the present-day chapters, movingly juxtapose her loss with her tentative efforts to move forward from it. Ages 12–up. Agent: Leigh Feldman, Leigh Feldman Literary.

  • Kirkus

    April 15, 2017
    Louna finds her cynicism about romance challenged when her family's wedding business hires Ambrose.After years facing brides with cold feet and badly behaved wedding guests, Louna has become skeptical about romance and plans on remaining single during her last summer before college. Luckily, the busy wedding schedule provides plenty of legitimate excuses for Louna to avoid opportunities to meet potential dates. That changes when satisfying a particularly fussy bridal party requires hiring the bride's brother, Ambrose. He's a lady's man who typically charms more than one potential date during every social gathering. But he professes honesty about his dating motivations, expresses genuine interest in his dates, and displays a sort of oddly enchanting "aw, shucks" dismissal of his ability to reel in girls. Louna's outwardly dismayed by his antics, but his cliched (but adorable) gestures, such as impulsively adopting a rescue dog, begin to win her over. However, Louna's still tormented by the unexpected death of her first love. Flashbacks to their relationship combined with the way she reluctantly accepts the need to move forward too provide a bittersweet counterpoint to the traditional rom-com storyline. Louna's lovingly depicted gay godfather provides a bit of diversity in the otherwise apparently straight, white cast. Romance, humor, kindhearted characters, and a touch of painful reality make this another sure bet for Dessen fans. (Romance. 12-16)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-Louna's broken heart and her mother's cynical views on love and marriage have soured her on the idea of everlasting love. While working at her mother's wedding planning business, she meets Ambrose, whom she had to drag away from a girl so that he could escort his mother down the aisle. Louna is not thrilled when her mother hires Ambrose for the summer, but he is charming and spices up her usual summer routine. Louna prefers to date only when forced to by her best friend Jilly, while Ambrose plays the field nightly. Louna's disdain for Ambrose's escapades leads to a friendly wager-for the next seven weeks she will date around and he will commit to one person; the winner will choose the loser's next date. As the story unfolds, the truth of Louna's heartbreak is revealed one piece at a time, just as she admits her real feelings for Ambrose. Can she open her heart to love again? The answer is obvious, but nevertheless it is an enjoyable journey getting there. Secondary characters, such as Louna's mother, Jilly, and William, her mother's best friend and business partner, are well developed and add depth to the protagonist's past and present. However, an attempt at racial diversity falls flat with three separate descriptions of peripheral characters as black, while there is no other mention of race or ethnicity for any other character. VERDICT There is no question that this title will be popular with Dessen fans and romance lovers.-Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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