Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

By: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 242
Source: Library

Two years ago, when Eliza Sellman was in ninth grade, her dad found out he was being transferred 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 bikini… you 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.

I was so wonderfully surprised by One Night That Changes Everything, having gone into it with the expectation that it would just be another average contemporary young adult novel. I should have known better, because for one thing, it’s Lauren Barnholdt (I’m totally trusting her from now on), and for another, this is one of those awesome books that takes place all in one night (think Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), so how can you go wrong, really?

The writing is so breezy and easy to get into, and it’s often unexpectedly clever and funny. I read the majority of One Night late at night while the rest of my household was asleep (I’m resisting the urge to make a bad “one night” joke), and I was constantly having to stifle my giggles, because this novel just makes you feel good. You can’t help but chuckle sometimes.

Eliza’s voice is so realistic and so fun to read, and she does this thing where she’ll think something during her inner monologue and then immediately say the exact same thing to the people she’s with, which had me laughing out loud several times. At certain points I was frustrated that she wasn’t trying to stand up the 318’s and was just doing whatever they told her to, but I could mostly understand her thought processes and it ended up working with the flow of the plot and her own personal growth. Her friends Marissa and Clarice are also hilarious, and they added so much to the night’s adventures.

And of course I have to mention the boy. Duh. :P Cooper manages to be the perfect combination of jerk and awkwardly adorable dork, and I thoroughly enjoyed his interactions with Eliza. He’s the bad boy we love to hate but secretly really love, and right from the beginning somehow you’re rooting for him and hoping that he’s not actually as awful as he seems.

With genuine, quirky characters and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, One Night That Changes Everything is a fun, heartwarming read that I can’t recommend enough. Lauren Barnholdt has definitely secured her place on my list of authors to keep an eye on.

Read my review of the prequel novella, Before That Night.


  1. i'm probably never going to read this book. i don't mean to say your review was bad! but i read the author's book Sometimes It Happens and did NOT like it one bit, and people who disliked SIH didn't like this no.

  2. Yayayayay! I'm still making my way through Barnholdt's books and this one is still waiting for me. I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much and now I can't wait to get around to it! :D


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