November 23, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Night • The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life Tara Altebrando cover
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (an imprint of Penguin)
Publication Date: July 5, 2012
Source: Borrowed from the library || Hardcover

Mary and her friends are determined to take part in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt - and win it. But there are secrets that will come to light, alliances that change with every hour and moments that will make it or break it for the entire team. The question is - how far will they go to win the game?

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life is not only a mouthful of a title, but it is also a novel that made me nostalgic for my days as a high school senior. In particular, it reminded me of all the emotions I felt back then - excited and hopeful and happy about the future, but hesitant, melancholy and slightly panicky. When you’re a senior and facing that looming future in a university that’s a whole new world entirely, there’s this feeling that you need to make the most of everything, especially the last few months.

Like Mary, I thought it was so incredibly essential for me to leave my mark in high school. What I didn’t realize then was that it was really the friendships shared, little everyday moments and lessons learned that would really stay and make their mark on me. It’s interesting to watch Mary come around to this way of thinking, especially because I remember going through nearly exactly the same process she did (though without the events that triggered her change of heart).

I remember telling Estelle that I didn’t think there was any underlying complexity in this book. I’m happy to report that I can retract that statement and say that there is indeed one thing about this novel that makes it incredibly complex... I’m referring to the relationships between the characters.

The relationships in this book are quite interesting. There’s friendship, there’s romance, there’s unrequited love. There are quite a few characters to think about, and they’re not just one-dimensional either. For the most part, I felt like I carried the same assumptions Mary did at the start, only to realize that there was definitely a lot more to... well, everything as the night went on.

My favorite part of the novel is, of course, the much-lauded scavenger hunt. I wish there had been a tradition like that at our school! I’ve always been a fan of figuring out clues and puzzles, and scavenger hunts like this one are right up my alley. Anyway, their list of things to find or tasks to accomplish ranged from easy to super creative - and I loved every single bit of it. It’s awesome when everyone’s really into the scavenger hunt, and willing and able to do what it takes to win (within reason, of course).

If you’re looking for a fun, thoughtful read that will make you nostalgic for your crazy days in high school (or maybe that’s just my memory of high school talking...), this is definitely the book for you. The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life takes the intricate web of high school relationships and sets it against a perfectly fun scavenger hunt backdrop - and the whole thing is incredibly enjoyable!


  1. This book has been on my radar, but I haven't gotten around to it. Even though I haven't read the book, I also wish my high school had some kind of scavenger hunt, too. Although, now that I think about it, I doubt I would have participated. I was way too shy. :)

    Thanks for the review, though. I may pick this up from the library soon.

  2. Aww this sounds like a really great heartwarming read. I love books that remind me of high school even though I get super nostalgic, too! But they're just so much fun to read and you get that feeling you had back then of hope and your whole life ahead of you. I will definitely be checking this one out!!

  3. the relationships in this book DOES sound pretty interesting! i don't know, my high school experience was pretty forgettable as i didn't really participate in the milestone moments but perhaps this book will let me live vicariously. the scavenger hunt sounds super fun!

  4. I tried this one a while back, but never could get into it. It does look like a super fun book, though! I love the cover AND the premise of a scavenger hunt. Maybe I'll give it another go sometime. :)

  5. So weird because I just bought this book yesterday. They had it at a used bookstore for half off the hardcover! I'm glad to see it did have a heavier storyline underneath. I like that about Tara's books. I'm hoping to pick this one up before the end of the year.


  6. Oh gosh! Considering that I am still mourning the loss of my teen years, you can probably guess that I miss my high school days just as much! I love the idea of a Senior Scavenger Hunt!

  7. Oh, a scavenger hunt?! I'll be adding this to my TBR!


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