Book Review: Once and For All

It’s recently come to my attention that I haven’t posted very many book reviews for mainstream YA books here on Authoring Arrowheads. I’m also getting slack on writing reviews for books I’ve recently read. So, without further ado, let me catch you up on what I’ve been reading lately: Sarah Dessen’s latest novel, Once and For All.

Review: Once and For All by Sarah Dessen


One of my first Goodreads updates for Once and For All said something along the lines of, “so far it’s not as enjoyable as other Dessen novels”. Take that with a grain of salt; I was only 9% in, and though the first chapter or two were a tad bland compared to other Dessen novels, I quickly got over my former judgment.

Like other Dessen novels, the characterization was outstanding. Ambrose annoyed me to no end at first, but then I warmed up to him in the end, as we were all supposed to. I also noticed that Dessen worked to incorporate more diverse secondary characters into this novel. Some of the idologies and events do not align with Christian beliefs, so if you’re a Christian reader, you’ve been forewarned. But, then again, it’s a mainstream, secular novel, and they don’t claim to adhere to Christian beliefs or pass them off as such. The idologies and events do not take away from the overall story either, whether you agree/disagree wtih them. But, for the few instances I have in mind, I’d advise a 16+ age rating, as it has some themes and language that may be uncomfortable for younger readers.

Without spoiling the novel for you, I will say this: Dessen ventured into a darker realm than she usually does in her novels, exploring the theme of a young, unexpected loss. This aspect of the novel redeemed the first few chapters for me, because the way Dessen went about incorporating it was unique and attention-grabbing. The way Dessen wrote about the way the main character’s outlook on love after her loss was both inspiring and heartbreaking. It was also extrememly tear-jerking. You’ve been warned!

Overall, Once and For All warmed my heart in an unexpected way. I absolutely loved the wedding planner theme, and all the funny events surrounding that. Though it isn’t my favorite by Dessen, it still ranks as one of her better novels in my opinion.

Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars.

What’s your favorite novel by Sarah Dessen? Mine is This Lullaby. Why? One word: DEXTER! 😛

-Allyson 😀

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As an author and blogger, my goal is to teach writers that there is a way to write realistic, thought-provoking, redemptive Christian fiction that honors God while not sugarcoating the realities of the world.