Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life, by Tara Altebrando @TaraAltebrando

What and unexpected treat The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life is. I laughed but also was impressed with the unexpected depth of the characters as they discover significant truths about themselves and their friends in less than a 24-hour period.

Our narrator is Mary, who is about to finish her senior year of high school. She and three friends are participating in the Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt, a "secret" annual event that Mary is determined to win.

Her greatest adversary is Barbone, who got an athletic scholarship to Georgetown, and Mary didn't get accepted. To say there's some bitter feelings is an understatement. The list of items and tasks for the scavenger hunt is imaginative and entertaining. However, the fun isn't only their quest to collect as many points as possible, it's also learning about the characters' motivations and back stories. The romances and crushes. The breakups and secrets. A lot is cleverly revealed during this seemingly simple story of some high school students' annual contest.

Mary finds out her enemies aren't necessarily deserving of her hatred, her friends are keeping secrets, and one friend in particular wants to be more than friends. She learns some hard lessons about priorities, family, and taking one for the team. How Mary handles all these revelations is entertaining, but not always perfect.

I found it unrealistic that this ritual occurs every year during the same week, but presumably it's a secret for the townspeople and police. The kids were all worried about revealing themselves to the authorities in fear that the hunt would be ruined. I didn't buy the need for secrecy. If this really happens every year, there's no need for secrecy.

I enjoyed Mary's point of view and connected with her the most, but the other characters were interesting and added color to the story. The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life is fun, light-hearted, and is paced so that you can't really put it down. It's a short book, and I read it in two sittings (had to do some work, or probably would have finished it in one!) Recommend this one to your contemporary fans. It's a great story about friendship and loyalty and about working to meet a goal. Although this is narrated by a girl, there are strong male characters which make The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life accessible to boys too.

Published by Dutton Books, July 5, 2012
Copy obtained from the library
239 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5

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  1. Ok I know I shouldn't be this excited but The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life sounds perfect for me! I need to read it. I'm going to email my bookstore and order a copy. Thanks for the review!

  2. This sounds like fun, especially having done one or two great scavenger hunts in my high school years. The secret things sounds strange, but I can suspend that for a fun book :-)

  3. This is one of those books I keep meaning to read, but for whatever reason keep forgetting about. Your review reminded me again lol! I think I'll add it to my summer reading list for sure. Sounds like it would be a good one for that time of year :)

  4. I've heard such great things about this book, I can't believe I haven't picked it up yet. This is a nice reminder to check it out at the library. Also with my reading schedule, I won't lie, shortness is a plus! :-)

  5. I wanted to read this one a while back, but then it totally slipped off my radar. Thanks for reminding me!


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