Monday, December 3, 2012

Sometimes It Happens

Sometimes It Happens
Lauren Barnholdt
ISBN: 978-1442413146
Simon Pulse, 2011

Plot Summary: Told in the present day of the first day of senior year and in a number of flashbacks to events that occurred over the summer readers meet Hannah, her ex-boyfriend Sebastian, her best friend Ava, and Ava’s boyfriend Noah. When summer vacation starts, Hannah catches Sebastian lip locked with a freshman girl. She’s feeling betrayed and disheartened when Ava drops the bomb—she’s been invited to go to Maine as a camp counselor for the summer leaving Hannah all alone with no plans. Noah helps her get a job at his work—a little tiny diner—where she meets Layna who quickly becomes a good friend. With Ava ignoring her most of the time, Hannah bonds with Noah and eventually starts to fall for him. She tries as hard as she can to ignore the feelings, especially as Sebastian tries to talk to her about the mistake he made. Unfortunately, it all comes to a head the night before school starts when Hannah and Noah sleep together. Now she’s faced with the guilt at having betrayed Ava and Ava’s reaction. The story then is told throughout the rest of the first day of school as Noah breaks up with Ava, Ava discovers the truth, Sebastian apologizes for his behavior, and the freshman he cheated with asks Hannah for forgiveness (as she didn’t know he had a girlfriend and regrets the night), and Layna dumps Hannah because of her own past when her ex-best friend stole her ex-boyfriend from her. It all comes down to Hannah learning how to stand on her own two feet and go for what is right and what she wants. 

Critical Evaluation: A typical good girl accidentally steals her best friend’s boyfriend story but written with a twist. I like how it all takes place in a day (with flashbacks). Hannah is truly a good girl and Noah is truly a good guy. I like the message that Sebastian shares with Hannah—“Whether you mean it to or not, sometimes it happens.” Not all cases of cheating boyfriends and girlfriends are done callously or vindictively. Sometimes people meet other people who are just a better match for them and no matter how hard you try to avoid the feelings, situations like that sometimes just happen. It’s a good message for teens to see in case they ever find themselves in such a situation. Hannah never set out to hurt Ava but once she got to hang out with Noah she realized that they had a lot in common and his relationship with Ava had a lot of problems no one knew about. Being away from Ava for a summer, Hannah realizes that she was controlling and never that great of a friend (it was always about Ava and when Hannah had real problems Ava just didn’t understand how to help Hannah) so in the end, Hannah is actually better off without Ava.

Reader's Annotation: Hannah spends the summer without her best friend Ava. Ava’s boyfriend, Noah, gets her a job at his diner and the two begin to become close. However, the attraction might be too close.  

Author Information: Lauren Barnholdt is the author of the teen novels The Thing About the Truth, Sometimes It Happens, One Night That Changes Everything, Two-Way Street, and Watch Me. She is also the author of the middle-grade novels The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney, Devon Delaney Should Totally Know Better, Four Truths and a Lie, Rules for Secret-Keeping, Fake Me a Match, and Girl Meets Ghost. She lives in Waltham, Massachusetts (Simon & Schuster, n.d.).

Genre: Realistic, Romance

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:  Read a scene showing how Ava is not a good friend, read a scene where Hannah and Noah bond (likeat  the concert)

Reading Level/Interest Age: 14+

Challenge Issues: Dating, drinking, drugs, sex, cheating

Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion: A good realistic fiction book with a good message that sometimes cheating does happen because it just happens not because people set out to hurt others on purpose.  


Simon & Schuster. (n.d.). Lauren Barnholdt. Retrieved from

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