One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: One Night That Changes Everything

Author: Lauren Barnholdt

Published: July 6th, 2010

Number of Pages: 256

Rating: 3/5


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 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. [From Goodreads]


Eliza: The problem with YOU is that you don’t take the RESPONSIBILITY for anything@ You think you can just run around, doing whatever you want to whoever you want, and that it’s going to be fine. That everything is just going to be TAKE CARE of for you, with no consequences.

Cooper: No. I don’t, and I have had consequences from what happened with me and you.

Eliza: Yeah? Like what?

Cooper: I lost you, that was my consequence.

(Kind of corny, but very cute, right?)


I was originally turned-off by the cover of this book because it reminds me of something along the lines of Gossip Girls (which isn’t quite my sort of book), but Miranda Kenneally informed me that the book is about a girl who doesn’t typically do those things you’d associate with Gossip Girls. So – count me in.

I bought on a Tuesday and was finished sometime Wednesday afternoon. I loved the ease with which I could read it. There’s a simple, soothing flow to the narration and the plot, despite the fact that Eliza would call her adventure anything but soothing. From the very beginning of the book, the reader knows what’s at stake, why it’s a big deal, and that Eliza will do just about anything to rescue that purple notebook from the clutches of the taunting boys. After all – how could you be okay with a list of your worst, most personal fears splattered all over the internet? Particularly when some of those fears involve people you love and whose good side you want to stay on?

Eliza’s voice isn’t unpleasant or “clunky.” I truly felt like I was reading from the point of view of someone I’d run into in my French class. My issue with her voice was that it could have been anyone in my French class. It wasn’t unique enough to stand out. I don’t expect everyone to be as clever as John Green’s characters or as emotional as Jennifer Donnelly’s, but I do want there to be some trait that is solely this character, this person. Eliza simply didn’t feel individual to me. If her friends hadn’t mentioned traits of hers (for example, they say she’s very smart), I wouldn’t have perceived them from her narration.

The adventure or quest manages to be light-hearted while keeping the humiliating consequences at the forefront. I never lost sight of the seriousness of the situation, but I could ride along with the characters without, well, freaking out. This book is just the sort of thing you’d want to bring with you on a car trip or on vacation, and it was perfect for a quick Spring Break read. I’d also recommend it to girls (this probably wouldn’t appeal to boys) who don’t typically enjoy reading.

Eliza’s ex-boyfriend, Cooper, ends up playing a much larger role in the entire notebook situation than Eliza would have expected – or hoped, for that matter. I knew from the very beginning that something serious must have happened to pull them apart because Cooper comes off as a really nice guy, despite Eliza’s anger with him. I couldn’t understand what he could have done to wreck things, and that made the relationship far more interesting. I knew something had gone seriously wrong. I also knew that though she’d dumped him, their relationship wasn’t over – either they were going to find closure, or something just as crazy as the event that broke them up was going to bring them back together.

Overall, I think the main reason I didn’t feel satisfied after reading One Night That Changes Everything was Eliza. She definitely grows and learns some valuable lessons on her insane trip around Boston, but there were certain areas in which she just fell short. Her voice wasn’t spectacular and her choices weren’t always ones I could back up. Sure, she was likable, but she wasn’t the sort of person I’d want to be close friends with, and it’s far easier to cheer someone on when you feel like you want to get to know them better. Eliza’s innermost secrets were laid out in front of me, but I didn’t feel the urge to look at them.

I’m sure I’ll pick up another book of Lauren Barnholdt’s, as it was her character that didn’t wow me, not her. I think the premise of the novel is an interesting one, and the journey the characters take through the book was fast-paced and well-managed. I’m excited to see what she else she’s come up with and how she handles other scenarios and, most importantly, other characters.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway of an ARC of Supernaturally by Kiersten White! You have until this Thursday to enter!

2 Commentsto “One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt; Review”

  1. I think that books like these are the kind of ones that hook you in and you really have to THINK to find some…not-as-satisfactory things, but once you do, they start piling up. They're not amazing, but they're interesting enough you want to keep reading. I'm curious about this book now, at least. (;

    • I agree – sometimes it's nice to find books that are simply enjoyable. Not mind-blowing, but just more wonderful words on crisp pages.

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