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The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,559 Ratings  ·  244 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 239 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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July 2012
19th out of 63 books — 137 voters
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Penguin Teen Summer 2012!
16th out of 25 books — 60 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 16, 2012 Keertana rated it liked it
The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life is by no means The Best Book You’ve Ever Read in Your (Pathetic) Life, but it may just be the most original. This was a novel that was brimming with unique flavor, ideas, and creativity which I absolutely adored. While I wish that Altebrando had managed to take more command of her narration and further develop the more serious and deep aspects of this novel, I can’t deny that it was funny, realistic, and a novel that I simply could not put down till I had ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Ade rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-own
This book just... Oh this book. I didn't like anyone. Seriously, I hated them all. Mary is crazy and obsessed with Carson, who's in love with Winter, who's also in love with Carson, while Patrick is in love with Mary, who isn't in love with Patrick, and Dez is just kind of in love with himself. That's what this book was about. It wasn't about an epic scavenger hunt that changed them forever, it was about some stupid fucked up love square with a little bit of scavenger thrown in to keep things in ...more
Jul 09, 2012 Maggie marked it as to-read
Recommended to Maggie by: E. Lockhart
I'll read anything E. Lockhart recommends. And there's a scavenger hunt!
Ashley W
Mar 28, 2014 Ashley W rated it it was ok
Wow, this book....It had a really awesome premise and scavenger hunts are always fun to read about. But this one was just ugh! I hated the main character and the supporting characters were all annoying, too.

Okay, the book is basically about Mary, a high school senior who's kind of a nerd and wants to win the Senior Scavenger Hunt in order to stick it to those who have bullied her. The book would have been really great if it had simply stuck to this and built on the scavenger hunt. However, a lo
¡Ayúdame! How much I loved this book. What's kind of crazy is how there were a few moments of "WAKE UP MARY!" sprinkled in and I still loved it. I won't ruin it for anyone but honestly, scavenger hunts have never been more fun in a book. If you're looking for a movie...Scavenger Hunt with Arnold. Bless his heart, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in one of his first real movies. Anyway, focus Eric, the book is fun. I like how it doesn't matter about who's smart or quicker, it's really about loving life (24 ...more
Jul 29, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it
The Best Night Of Your (Pathetic) Life was not quite what I expected. From the cover, title, and summary I expected a light, fun read. It definitely was a fun read but not quite as light as I expected. I was pleasantly surprised to find a mix of light and fun, and serious and contemplative between these pages.

Mary was the best thing about this book and the worst thing. She was such an easy character to relate to because she was far from perfect. She was not confident about herself or her dreams
I absolutely loved the first scavenger hunt in this story. Despite my lameness at them, I think scavenger hunts are pretty fantastic; mostly, I like the idea of them because it means clues and adventures and hauling weird crap around. I was excited from the moment Mary and her team got their list; I mentally went through all the items on the list that currently could be found at my house. I kind of wanted to go home and get them out, just because (I'm crazy)
While high school was never like Mary'
Feb 20, 2016 Jesten rated it it was amazing
Reading this book again made me realize that I was too harsh on it the first time. It's really fantastic actually.
Jul 11, 2015 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
2 stars

This review can also be found on my blog Blue-Eyed Bibliophile

When you read the summary, it sounds like it's going to be a fun, summery read with a super creative and original plot. But it's not. It's about a girl named Mary who has a horrible attitude about everything and cares about all the wrong things and throughout the book you have to suffer through her whines and complaints about what she has and doesn't have. Unfortunately, this book was ruined because we have to read it through M
Jun 03, 2015 Kait rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015
Okay, well. Picked this up randomly from the library because the title and cover caught my eye. That superficial attraction actually foreshadowed the superficiality of the entire book, so that doesn't bode well for this one.

-Quick Read
-Cute idea
-Potential for a real cast of characters

-HORRIBLE main caracter/narrator. Can't even call her a protagonist because she was just so ridiculously whinny and spoiled and obnoxious.
-The rest of the characters, though with potential to be great, were
Sara  (
Aug 01, 2012 Sara ( rated it it was amazing
Verdict: Non-stop fun. While technically not a “summer” novel, it sure feels like one!

Perfect for: People who have had relationship drama. People who secretly like watching other peoples’ relationship drama (who doesn’t?). People who love lists and scavenger hunts (who doesn’t????)

Summary: Just before Senior graduation Mary and her friends Patrick, Dez, and Winter decide that they are tired of being semi-nobodies and that they will prove themselves by winning the annual end-of-year Senior scaven
Jul 14, 2013 Hallie rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
Was a bit disappointed with this, as I've liked the other books I've read by this author, and it's both a fun title and great idea. It did have a lot of fun things in it - especially the scavenger hunt itself , and the kids who'd won the previous year, who set the challenge. Little things (and one rather major one) kept bouncing me out of it though - like Mary's not having a clue what "first-world problems" meant. The major one was the way Mary's crush on Cameron was handled - at points it seeme ...more
May 20, 2016 Jane rated it liked it
There was a lot I liked about this book, and there was a lot that I found annoying.

I dunno. I mean, I would definitely be down for participating in an epic night of scavenger hunting shenanigans. And I do think that one of the book's greatest strengths is that it manages to convey the sense of conflict and craziness that comes with graduating. I understand the whole "leaving your mark" mentality. But I'm not sure I buy into the whole "if we win the scavenger hunt, that'll really show Barbone an
Jan 06, 2013 Rachael rated it really liked it
Mary is tired of being in the backseat of her own life. And more than anything, she’s tired of being second best. That’s why she’s determined to win the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt: not only is it her last chance to leave her mark at school, but there’s no way that she’s going to let bully Jake Barbone come out on top again. But as the competition heats up, Mary’s team is no longer sure that they’re cut out for all of it, especially when every little tension ...more
Richard Ward
Oct 29, 2015 Richard Ward rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Can't recommend it for anyone of any age.
Last year's high school seniors organize a scavenger hunt for this year's seniors. We follow a team that calls itself "The Also-Rans," whiny teenagers who feel sorry for themselves because everyone else gets all the breaks. The book made me want to go on a scavenger hunt, I guess, but it didn't make me want to read anything more by the author. No plot beyond the gathering of objects for points. No likeable, relatable, or interesting characters. Mostly just pages of tedious dialogue. Skip it.
Jun 16, 2015 Berit rated it really liked it
Shelves: gryffindor-mmp
This book made me want to go on a scavenger hunt, and what a complicated scavenger hunt it was. This was just a fun light read, with a little teenage angst mixed in. Of course there was a complicated love triangle/Square, that left me wondering why any of these girls ever found that boy attractive, but fortunately I think they also came to that was about living in the moment, enjoying every day, and well just plain old growing up.
Apr 17, 2014 Faye rated it did not like it
Can we do this scavenger hunt? Please? And actually HAVE FUN. Like, laugh and be ridiculous and laugh and drink alcohol?

I'm on the team with the other reviewers who have said that they couldn't stand these characters. I actually thought about ditching it, but SCAV HUNT. I get that Mary starts out as small-minded and selfish, and she's supposed to have all these experiences that night that broaden her mind and make her a better person, yada yada. Look, I'm 36. I don't want to spend two days in t
Brianna Korte
Jan 28, 2016 Brianna Korte rated it it was amazing
OHMYHECk!!! This book was crazy!! Super exciting!! Omg the love triangles and secrets. The ending was kind of disappointing and cliffhangerish but overall great!
Jan 24, 2016 Aimie rated it did not like it
The plot line was underdeveloped and the whole process of this "scavengar hunt" was quiet...interesting. I orignally thought this novel was going to have characters that acted as if they were teenagers, since they are, but they did not have that feel. I felt as if they were young adults or middle-aged.

I wanted them to actually have a fight and show some sort of emotion other than neutral, or nothingness, because I just believed that this novel was worth the the end I was wrong.

Mar 13, 2013 Heather rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
What a great, fun, quick read! I loved the whole idea of this book, it being based behind a scavenger hunt. What a fun idea! I love reading the adventure the gang had. Of course there is girl drama along the way, but what high schooler doesn't have a little bit of drama in their life?
The only downfall I had to this book was I did feel a huge sense of character development in it and by the end I was wondering, well what now?
If your looking for a quick, fun read defiantly pick this book up!
Jul 18, 2015 Matisse rated it it was ok
I'm a selfish reader. If I can't get into the themes of a book, or at least identify with the protagonist on *some* level, I'm not likely to be onboard. Altebrando's 'The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life' hits this particular wall while going 60.

I had high hopes for this title. A few reviews said the premise alluded to a hijinks-y adventure with teen debauchery, but the actual story was slower and more introspective. I was all for that. I'm all *about* slower and introspective. I was there.

Aug 19, 2014 Musia rated it did not like it
There was one problem with this book:
The characters weren't likable.

The story had potential, the cover was cool-- but the people... Mary, narrator, is obnoxious and selfish and insensitive and pathetically pines for a jerk. I'm sorry, but I can't like a book if I don't like the characters.
Jan 08, 2014 Ally rated it liked it
There's no easy abbreviation for this ridiculously long title. BNYPL doesn't look great. Neither does TBNOYPL. I'm going to simply call it "The Book" just to make it easier for you and me.

The Book is sure hilarious. I do love how the entire book centers on one night. It reminds me of How I Met Your Mother, which is centered on one weekend. I do mean the last season, of course. HIMYM is crazy, but they can do whatever they like. Because they are HIMYM. For me, some parts of The Book were kind of
Nov 10, 2014 Shi'Asia rated it did not like it
This book wasn't what I imagined, in a bad way.I had high standards that fell short.None if the characters were all that inspiring (but they tried hard to be).it wasn't unreadable, but it's nothing special either.
I’d never heard anything about this book or the author when I started – I just picked it up after seeing a random ad for it on Goodreads. The concept really intrigued me. This crazy scavenger hunt just sounded like a perfect storyline and I was really excited to jump right into it.

The main part of this book is obviously the scavenger hunt. The list goes from toilet paper to various types of puzzles to skinny dipping. It all takes place throughout one packed night as Mary’s team goes around town,
I cannot believe how minuscule the ratings are for this book. I mean, COME ON. The book was fucking amazing. It was inspirational, it was fun. Mary may not be getting into Georgetown and Burke might be better than what we think of and Mary might be kind of a bitch and Mary might not be ending up with anyone BUT SERIOUSLY. This is the best book I've read in ages! I did not expect it actually. I took a break reading rock star romances and new adult dramas to make way for YA (because I read all gen ...more
Jan 08, 2014 Kasey rated it liked it
I listened to this book on CD over the past week during my daily drive to/from work. It wasn't the worst thing I have ever listened to, but it wasn't the best either. The voice actor was slightly annoying, but overall she did an okay job.

My main issue with this book was Mary, the main character. She was selfish, mean, whiny, and super annoying. I know she was "supposed" to be the stereotypical nerdy overachieving band geek that most teenagers can relate to, but she was just not easy to like at a
Jules Goud
Jan 29, 2014 Jules Goud rated it liked it
This book reminded me of a teenaged version of 'Sleepover'.

I didn't mind this book and it was very interesting. I loved the lists and some of Mary's dialogue was funny.

What I didn't like was the pining over Carson. Mary seriously needed to drop him. Someone needed to bust her dream. I didn't like the many love triangles. Way to much of them. To much drama about love.

Other then those slight issues, I loved going on this road with the yeti and Mary and her friends. Doing something that would make
Karla Feldstein
May 22, 2016 Karla Feldstein rated it liked it
More like a 3.5
3.5 i'd say
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What's The Name o...: Scavenger Hunt adventure / Young Adult [s] 5 41 Jul 25, 2013 09:52PM  
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Tara Altebrando is the author of numerous books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Her upcoming book, THE LEAVING (Bloomsbury), is a YA thriller that received a starred PW review and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other YA novels include ROOMIES, coauthored with Sara Zarr; Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens), The Best Night of (Your) Pathetic Life, What H ...more
More about Tara Altebrando...

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“I felt sort of sad that I couldn’t remember the last time, before tonight, that I’d paid such close attention to the sky. It felt like that must be some kind of sign that I’d lost my innocence and grown up without even realizing it.” 11 likes
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