Prather’s Pick: A young adult novel
This week’s novel was written for young adults by Sarah Dessen, a well-known, award-winning author. She has written 12 previous novels which include “New York Times” bestsellers. Two of her books were the basis for the movie “How to Deal.” She received the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards award from the American Library Association that recognized her significant contribution to young adult literature.
“Once and for All,” her most recent book (2017) and this week’s featured book has an unusual contemporary setting.
Louna Barrett is a senior in high school. Ever since she has been old enough, Louna has spent summers helping her mother with Natalie Barrett Weddings, a wedding planning business. Natalie has a partner, William, who has been with her for 16 years.
The business has a huge calling and for all kinds of weddings, too—even one with a circus theme. Since their wedding planning goes all the way through the ceremonies and receptions, the reader might guess that Natalie, William, and Louna have run into all kinds of problems over the years. Right on!
Take the bride who gets cold feet just before she’s ready to walk down the aisle, for example. (That’s Deborah in the first chapter of the book.) Or there’s the bride who is planning her third wedding and can’t find her brother who first said he wouldn’t be part of the wedding but then said he would. (The brother is Ambrose Little who becomes an important character in the book.)
Then there’s the kindergartener ring bearer who gets lost following the ceremony and is found in a parking lot petting a dog. There’s a controlling mother-of-the-bride, a bridesmaid who tries to steal the spotlight from the bride, and a lot more. Somehow Natalie’s Weddings manages to make each wedding perfect.
Louna has a friend Jilly. She had a first love, too. His name was Ethan Caruso. Something happened to Ethan. There is a hint at the beginning of the book, and chapters interspersed throughout the book (in between all of the wedding happenings) provide flashbacks about Louna’s time with Ethan. The suspense builds to the end of the book. Meanwhile, Louna’s mother has hired Ambrose Little to help out with the business, and his presence complicates things for Louna.
The setting is interesting, the action is well-paced, and young adults will enjoy this book—a lot.
“Once and for All” is published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It costs $19.99 in hardcover. You can also find the book with new books at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.