Monday, April 4, 2011

One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

Title: One Night That Changes Everything

Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Date Read: March 29 - 30, 2011
Rating: 4/5 stars

Two years ago, when Eliza Sellman was in ninth grade, her dad found out he was being transfered and the family was going to move. Having always been shy and not so confident about her body, Eliza took that opportunity to start a list in her private notebook of all the things she planned on doing when she moved but had always been afraid to—like wearing a miniskirt and asking guys to dance; singing karaoke in front of strangers; posting a photo of herself on her Facebook wall in a get the idea. New town, new Eliza, right? Well, she'll never know because the transfer fell through and they didn't move. But Eliza kept adding her goals and secret fears to the list in the notebook.

Now it's two years later, and in that time Eliza has had and lost her first boyfriend. But this was more than your average breakup...turns out the sweet and cute Cooper was only dating her as a hazing stunt by a secret society. Eliza got her revenge by posting some pretty nasty (and only sort-of true) stuff about Cooper online. That posting has had major consequences and now Cooper and his buddies have stolen her private notebook and won't give it back until she performs all the things on her list in one night. It's torture...until Eliza steals something from the boys she knows they'll want to trade her notebook for. What starts out as a night of humiliation turns into a night of revelations as Eliza learns what Cooper was really thinking when they dated, the real reason he's stolen her notebook, and how freeing—and life-changing—it can be to do the things you fear the most.

Loved it! As you might have noticed I've read a bunch of books lately that left less than satisifed. Finally, a 4-star read. While I did find some of the plot concepts to be taken from Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist it was original enough to pass as an excellent teen novel.

I love stories with unreliable narrators, and boy was Eliza unreliable! She and her friends flip-flopped all over the place, making them some of the most hilarious characters I've ever read. The lying, scheming, running all over town at 2:00 am, crashing house parties, breaking into basements? I wish everyone had friends like Eliza does. Some people might have considered it completely unrealistic but a lot of the plot points were explained (why Isabelle had an apartment, Eliza's parents were out of town, Cooper's car to transport them). It also made a lot of sense for this to all happen in one night rather than being dragged out over a few days, because there's sort of an "anything's-possible" feeling after midnight which lended itself well to this time line. 

As a character I admired Eliza for being so independent. She didn't accept Cooper's apology, didn't go running back into his arms, and stood her ground for the majority of the novel. I didn't mind that they got back together at the end, considering how much he helped her out. I also loved how Eliza's fears were revealed bit-by-bit rather than all at once and most of them weren't that crazy. It definitely wasn't like P.S. I Love You, more of just things that require confidence like singing karaoke. 

Two things I would've changed though. Some of the flashback moments seemed a little cheesy or too short without giving enough detail. I would've almost preferred a chapter to explain a few things right off the bat rather than hints along the way, though most of it worked out in the end. I also would've changed the cover. The model beside the car? Never happed in the story! It makes the book seem really shallow and juvenile rather than fun-loving and flirty. 

Favourite Quote: "Wow. Two guys fighting over me! Of course, one of them is fighting for me only because he wants to have sex with me, and the other one is fighting for me only so that he doesn't get into trouble with his secret underground jerky fraternity, but still. I sit up and pay attention to the drama."

Recommended: Audrey, Wait! (Robin Benway), The Year of Secret Assignments (Jaclyn Moriarty), Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (Rachel Cohn & David Levithan), 10 Things to Do before I Die (Daniel Ehrenhaft)

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