But today, tonight, they are still together. Alongside three of her closest friends, Mary will take part in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. After four years of feeling like the underdogs, Mary and her friends really wants to win this. Over the course of the next twelve hours, their friendships, brains, and patience will be tested as they race to accumulate all sorts of items, photos, and points. Along the way, there will be mess-ups and break-ups, possibilities and choices, dares and decisions. There will also be laughter and music and fast food and fireflies and little sisters and maple syrup. Whether or not they win the scavenger hunt, whether or not they stay friends for life, tonight, they are young, and they are together, and they are so very alive.
If you, like me, love a good one-day story - a story whose events all take place over the course of one day, a la Ferris Bueller's Day Off - and you like coming-of-age novels that have some weight but are just the right amount of light, then you'll gobble this book up in one sitting. The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando can be appreciated by teens and adults alike, young people looking forward to having such fun times with their friends and others looking back on what they did (or didn't) do when they were in high school.
"I want to remember this night for the rest of my life and I want to remember you in it, with me all the way."
Many YA novels involve rites of passage, and rightly so, because that's the right age for first jobs, prom, graduation, and so on. The scavenger hunt scenario was a great way to take a peek at these characters' lives, and it was fun to share the journey with them.
As previously mentioned, the tone could have been lighter or heavier, but it felt just about right, right where it was. The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life captures all of the drama of high school (Mary discovers that her crush is interested in her best female friend, Winter; Mary's best guy friend, Patrick, is head over heels for Mary, but she doesn't feel that way about him) while still having fun. Nothing was ever life or death here. Mary wants to win because she wants to show up a guy who has mocked her and her friends for years, plain and simple.
The race-against-the-clock element kept things rolling along at a steady clip. The stakes are raised when and how they should be, and the rules encourage fair play. Some parents forbid their teenagers to participate in the event; others encourage and assist their kids. Technology is current (photos are taken on cell phones as evidence of where they've gone and what they've done; the event runners send clues via text messages) and probably won't feel outdated any time soon.
I have really enjoyed all of Tara Altebrando's novels to date. This one, I'm ready to adapt into a film. Just give me the rights. (Pretty please?)
Gentle readers: Want to get points with me? Take a picture of one of the (G-rated) items on the scavenger hunt lists included in this book and share it in the comments below! Bonus points if you quote Say Anything...
Related Posts at Bildungsroman
Review: The Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando
Review: Love Will Tear Us Apart by Tara Altebrando (as Tara McCarthy)
Review: What Happens Here by Tara Altebrando
Review: Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
Interview: Tara Altebrando (March 2006)
Interview: Tara Altebrando (August 2006)
Interview: Tara Altebrando (November 2012)
Set in School and Transition Times Booklist