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The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

4.6 8
by Tara Altebrando

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A week before graduation, seniors at Oyster Point High compete in an unauthorized scavenger hunt with the prize being custodianship of a garden yeti that they keep for a year. Mary May Gilhooley is intent on breaking out of her good-girl shackles to win, but she has to contend with friction among her teammates, self-dubbed “the Also-Rans”: Harvard-bound Patrick, who is head over heels in (unrequited) love with Mary; mysteriously sullen best friend Winter; and barely closeted Dez, who has been picked on for years by a rival team. The objects in the hunt include many straightforward items (one “al dente” strand of spaghetti, a bar of hotel soap) and others that must be puzzled out (“Shave Bob’s balls” “Shuck a Mary on the half shell”). It’s a terrific premise, and Altebrando (Dreamland Social Club) successfully sustains a sense of tension and excitement throughout. In the final pages, Mary swings a bit unbelievably between acquiescent daughter and win-at-all-costs team leader, but that doesn’t diminish the book’s smart combination of end-of-high-school poignancy and fun. Ages 14–up. Agent: David Dunton, Harvey Klinger Agency. (July)
VOYA - Elizabeth Norton
For Mary, the end of senior year is coming too fast. There is just one more week of school left, and one more thing that she and her friends get to do together: the unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. Mary is determined to beat Jake Barbone, the bully who has tormented her best friend, Dez, since elementary school and who stole her spot at Georgetown. For one wild afternoon and evening, Mary reinvents herself as she and her friends crisscross their small town, strategizing, finding random items, and pulling off crazy stunts in hopes of small-town glory and the honor of running the hunt for the next graduating class. Altebrando's story combines the height of high school drama with all the bittersweet emotions of graduation. Through the course of the hunt, hearts are broken, friendships are tested, and new alliances are formed. Though many of the characters are not fully developed, readers may recognize themselves in this story. Teens will relate to Mary's desire to leave her hometown and also to her uncertainty about going away to college. The scavenger hunt provides enough action to keep the pages turning as Mary and her friends form strategies and work out the clues. Profanity, underage drinking, and sexual references make this a more appropriate choice for older teens. Reviewer: Elizabeth Norton
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Mary's last hope to do something memorable in high school is to win the Oyster Point High Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. After a fiasco at prom and losing her spot at Georgetown to the football jock, she is determined to take first place. She convinces her friends to help her gain enough points to beat the other seniors. They dash around town to find all sorts of items and they puzzle out clues left through text messages. As the afternoon and evening drag on, issues under the surface come to light, and nothing will be the same. Ultimately, Mary has to decide what's more important-her friendships or winning. Quite a few flashbacks explain the events leading to the night in the book, while the issues the characters deal with fill in gaps. The protagonist is not a sympathetic character, and while the scavenger hunt will keep readers turning the pages, the story falls a little flat.—Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL
Kirkus Reviews
It's the week before high school graduation, time for the annual Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. Over a long day, Mary and the three other members of her team will bond one last time, settle old scores with rival teams, and pursue the elusive prize: a giant lawn-ornament Yeti. For Mary, winning also means beating out Jake Barbone, the gay-bashing jock whom Georgetown admitted over Mary, despite her superior grades. Teammate Dez is a past Barbone victim; Winter and Patrick have agendas of their own that Mary's forced to reckon with as the day unfolds. Harvard-bound Patrick isn't satisfied with Mary's friendship--he wants more. Is Winter hiding her own romantic secrets that might interfere with Mary's scheme to secure Carson's affections? While texting, sending videos and doing online searches via smart phone (this is one high-tech hunt), not to mention searching out live goldfish and puzzling over Dixie-cup icosahedrons and origami sheep, Mary will make surprising discoveries and confront uncomfortable truths. Anxious and excited, ebullient and sorrowful, she's poised to take flight into the intoxicating world of adult freedom. But tearing around capturing fireflies and hunting out old stuffed animals brings home the bittersweet truth of what--and whom--she'll leave behind. Funny and nostalgic, a highly contemporary riff on a timeless rite of passage. (Fiction. 13 & up)
From the Publisher
"In this highly enjoyable caper, the writing is crisp, the dialogue spot on, and the hunt entirely twenty-first century."—The Horn Book

"Funny and nostalgic, a highly contemporary riff on a timeless rite of passage."—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.88(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Praise for The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life:

"[A] smart combination of end-of-high-school poignancy and fun." —Publishers Weekly

"Funny and nostalgic, a highly contemporary riff on a timeless rite of passage." —Kirkus

Meet the Author

Tara Altebrando is an author of books for adults and teens, including Dreamland Social Club and The Pursuit of Happiness. She lives with her family in Queens, New York.

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The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
High school is ending. After an entire life spent in second place, Mary Gilhooley hopes the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt will be her chance to finally come out on top. Jake Barbone may be going to Georgetown instead of her, cute Carson might be dating someone else, but this scavenger hunt is Mary’s. Even if her misfit friends decide to prepare by wearing the least practical scavenger hunt outfits ever. Sure, changing Dez’s mind about anything fashion related was hopeless. But did Patrick really need knee socks with his shorts? Or suspenders? And why would Winter wear a dress and platform flip-flops? Doesn’t the rest of her team know that Mary came to Win with a capital W? One all-day scavenger hunt, two lawn ornaments, three meltdowns, four relationship fails, nostalgia, and one incredibly daring stunt stand between Mary’s team and victory. Or utter failure in The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life (2012) by Tara Altebrando. At 239 pages (hardcover) The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life is the short, fast-paced read you would expect from a scavenger hunt odyssey. Filled with hijinks and tricky clues, Altebrando draws readers into the Official Unofficial hunt right along with Mary and her misfit friends that you can’t help but love. Between brainstorming sessions and high-action competition, Altebrando includes thoughtful musings on what the end of high school really means for old friends and new beginnings. Truly, this book is the quintessential end-of-high-school read as Mary and her friends all wonder what the future holds. The blend of excitement, adventure, and sometimes dread only adds to the delightful ride that is The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life.
DahlELama More than 1 year ago
This book was fun and I read it in one sitting, and admittedly I'm probably overrating it because I like Altebrando's other books, but it was a really cute premise and I appreciated that the author didn't take easy roads out when it came to plots and relationships. The premise was fun and, I thought, well-executed. I didn't particularly love any of the characters, but I enjoyed spending time with them enough and didn't have to stop to snort in disgust at anyone, which seems to be a rarity for me these days. It was exactly what I was in the mood for, and delivered on what I wanted it to be.
Paperback_Princess More than 1 year ago
This book was a super cute take on a senior tradition. I really loved that the tradition was a scavenger hunt that took place all through the night, and the entire time that I was reading it, I wished that my high school had a similar tradition where we would have one night to run around town and gather these things. It tested your knowledge of the area and the people in it. As you expect with teenagers, there was bound to be hiccups and lots of drama long the way, from teams merging to lovers fighting, all of it was there in this book. I'm not sure that I totally liked Mary through this book, I really liked her enthusiasm, but it came to a point where it overshadowed her friends and what the challenge was really about. In typical YA fashion there are a whole slew of topics covered including the bond with your BFF, bullying, and having a gay friend. I like that the book managed to touch on these things, and show how certain things were wrong or how things could be done differently. A lot of the challenges that they had were really fun especially the last one. All in all, this book is a fun quick read worth a shot.
rockygirl1 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this one. I found it to be a really quick and easy read. It was fun, a fun night, a fun game, and lots of teenage drama! Dez, Winter, Patrick, and Mary spend one last night together and work out some of their issues with each other before getting ready to head off to college. Nothing serious or earth shattering, but a good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont know
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay Nick.