Mini Review: One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

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.

I’ve heard that Lauren Barnholdt is a fabulous writer so I was super excited to read something by her.  Unfortunately I picked the wrong one because I didn’t care for this book all that much.  It was written well (other then my issues with the characters) and this book had lots of potential for me, it just didn’t live up to it.

I didn’t like the characters in the book.  Eliza is whiny and overly angsty and overreacts to pretty much everything.  Yet she’s so determined to not let her secrets get out that she lets these guys walk all over her and actually does the things they ask.  Now some of the things aren’t such a big deal but some of them are a bit crazy.  I think she should have just walked away and forgot about it.  Eliza’s two BFF’s are horrible friends.  Well, that’s not always true, they stand by her.  Except when they have better things to do and they just disappear to do those other things and totally ‘forget’ to tell her.  Cooper was probably the best character of all and he seemed sweet but I was just waiting for him to make things stop and go away because he really had a lot of power he could have wielded.  But instead he just let everything happen.  

The story line idea is great.  I like the idea of a girl working through her fears when they are things like singing karoake, asking a guy to dance, etc. But they started to get a little out of hand.  I did like the running around part.  How they end up all over Boston in the middle of the night.  

I don’t know, I’m just not really feeling this book.  But I also didn’t hate it and think the author had a great idea.  So I’m going with 2.5 stars for this one.

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  1. I liked this one, but I think I only rated it 3 stars. I liked her challenges more than I did the romance though. But not a great book for your first. I’d recommend Sometimes It Happens.

  2. Hm. Whiny characters are always hugely problematic for me, as are ones who let others walk all over them so I think I would have some trouble with Eliza as well. Thanks for the honesty Candace, despite an interesting premise I don’t think I’ll add this one to my list!

  3. I had heard Lauren Barnholdt was great too, but after picking up a couple of her books I decided otherwise. It’s nice to find someone else who agrees, the story lines are always good but the way they are executed isn’t.

  4. UoooOoo I don’t like when the MC is too whiny. I mean often it’s hard to portray a YA character in a real and believable way, but creating them too whiny doesn’t make me like them ;-((
    Oh and what I hate most is when keeping a secret feels more like a forced plotline instead of sounding real!

    I believe I read something from Lauren Barnholdt again and I remember it was a light and fun story…

  5. I have also heard great things about this author so I have always wanted to try one of her books. I’m sorry this one just didn’t work for you. If you read something amazing by her please let me know!

    Thanks for the great review.

  6. I remember reading a lot of mixed reviews when this one first came out. Like you, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Barnholdt, but I think I’ll start with one of her other books, since I’m not so sure about this one.

  7. Oh what a bummer!! I have a copy of this one, and I’ve been really looking forward to reading it, b/c I’ve heard a lot of great things about LB too!

    Huh. Maybe I’ll like it more 😛

    Sorry it just didn’t work for you!

  8. I recently read Barnholdt’s Two Way Street and felt the same way. I heard really great things about it, but I had a hard time rooting for any of the characters (who I found to be frustrating to say the least.) I finished the book feeling disappointed. I may give her another try though, but probably not this book. Thanks for the honest review:)

  9. Just from reading that blurb, I think I’d be skipping this one, and your review cinched that. I can’t see a relationship forged in blackmail and bribery working out all that well. And I WAS one of those girls who got played by a guy for laughs, so I really don’t think I’d like a book where a guy who would do something like that gets redeemed.


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