Thursday, July 5, 2012
The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando
An all-day scavenger hunt in the name of eternal small-town glory
With only a week until graduation, there's one last thing Mary and her friends must do together: participate in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. And Mary is determined to win.
Mary lost her spot at Georgetown to self-professed "it" bully Jake Barbone, and she's not about to lose again. But everyone is racing for the finish line with complicated motives, and the team's all-night adventure becomes all-night drama as shifting alliances, flared tempers, and crushing crushes take over. As the items and points pile up, Mary and her team must reinvent their strategy--and themselves--in order to win.
The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life has a few of my favorite things: scavenger hunts, small town quirkiness, and college angst. Not that I enjoy college angst, but I definitely sympathize with it. Luckily, all these things, plus more, combined make this one insanely fun read.
In many ways I feel like The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life was made just for me, and that's why I enjoyed it so much. As expected, the topic of the future comes up a lot: what's going to happen to friendships in the summer, if it's worth changing friendships into something else before the fall, getting your plans changed because you're not going to the school you expected to, how friendships will be tested in college, and the attempts to achieve and capture these perfect moments even when you know things are soon going to be radically different. And, because I just finished high school, this was all especially poignant. I don't think I've ever read a book that captures all the confusion, stress, and happiness that comes along with graduating quite so well, so whenever Mary or one of her friends brought up the future (or tried to avoid it) I couldn't help but think, "girl, I feel you."
And because I so heavily sympathized with all of Mary's feelings about her friends, sometimes I wished that some of the other stuff stayed out of it. Mary's mom and sister make brief appearances, but I thought they were too brief to have much of an impact; they just seemed to be there to add a little extra angst. I would have much rather had more exploration of Mary's friendships, especially with her best girl friend Winter, who always seemed to have more issues than she was letting on. However, even with these wishes of mine, I felt like the characters were actually rather well-rounded. I enjoyed getting to know them through their actions during the scavenger rather than only stories; the hunt definitely brings out the humor and competitiveness in people, so everyone seemed to be very natural. Plus, the scavenger hunt is just pure fun-- the items they have to find are sometimes ridiculous, sometimes simple, but either way, they allow for some hilarious adventures.
The combination of adventure and emotional depth make The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life one wonderful read.
Book details: Dutton/Hardcover/$16.99
Source: sent by publisher for review