Review: One Night by Deanna Cabinian

Summary/Cover Image from Author's Website
Thompson may be only seventeen but he knows he’s just checked into Heartbreak Hotel for good, now that his girlfriend, Caroline, has put an end to their burning love. Since then he’s been sleepwalking through his summer job at Super Kmart while desperately dreaming of ways to win her back. He even drops by the Tiki House on Elvis Presley Night hoping that she, a diehard fan of the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” will be there as well. That’s when he meets Johnny Lee Young—real estate agent by day, Hawaii’s Favorite Elvis Impersonator by night—and the lovesick teen’s world suddenly takes a wild and unexpected turn.

As luck would have it, Johnny needs a temporary assistant to help with equipment and social media and Thompson eagerly accepts the offer, hoping it will distract him from his painful and lingering romantic issues. But like Thompson, Johnny is nursing a secret heartbreak and pining for his own lost love. So the new roadie starts making plans—with a little help from his friends Ronnie and Greta—to accompany the counterfeit King on an odyssey of a lifetime that will take them far from their island paradise home in search of true love.

Deanna Cabinian's One Night was pitched to me as "coming-of-age novel set in Hawaii" that "appeals to fans of Paper Towns." As someone who loves Paper Towns (and exotic settings because again I live in northeast PA,  there's nothing exotic about that), I quickly moved One Night up the top of my TBR pile. As it turns out, that description couldn't have been more accurate. The easiest way for me to describe this book? A John Green book meets a Hawaii setting with a lot of Elvis thrown in. And, quite simply, I enjoyed every single minute of it!

My favorite aspect of this One Night? The characters.

Thompson is suffering from his first-ever, listen-to-sad-songs and stew-about-the-good-times heartbreak. It isn't going to well for him, which is how he ends up at the Tiki House the night that Johnny Lee Young, an Elvis impersonator, performs, hoping - but really praying - to see Caroline, his horrible yet still frighteningly addictive ex-girlfriend. Instead of seeing Caroline he befriends Johnny, whose rendition of Elvis' Hurt drastically changes the course of Thompson's summer.

From the first page, I was captured by Thompson's story. His voice was funny (the scenes about Super Kmart and his interactions with his friends always had me laughing out loud!) as well as charming. It was incredibly easy to relate to his heartbreak. Because really, who of us hasn't been there, especially in high school? At the start of the book, Thompson has such a pure, innocent view of lost love, believing that maybe if you just try and make that big leap, it will all come back together again. As the book progresses, Thompson learns that this big lost loves aren't the ultimate end all, and sometimes, as the songs go, goodbye is the only way. I loved seeing that transformation occur with him....it was the ultimate coming-of-age. I also enjoyed the friendships and relationships he cultivated over the course of this book, especially the one with Johnny. It was cool to see that even with the large age gap, Johnny and Thompson still had a lot to teach it other, and in some ways it was like a big brother/little brother relationship. Thompson pushed Johnny to think with his heart while  Johnny brought Thompson back down to reality regarding certain things. It was a great dynamic!

The plot mainly revolved around heartbreak and learning how to move on. I'm always a little weary of heartbreak books, because they can go the good, normal, lets heal route or they can go the whiny, drastic, stalkery route. Thankfully, this book went the good route, having Thompson go through the normal steps of the break-up process, and I found it to be pitch-perfect realistic. Throughout I was cheering Thompson to move on and learn to love his life again and maybe, just maybe, consider a relationship with his super nice and adorable coworker. I also enjoyed the little mystery of Johnny's first love. There was so many ways it could have gone, and throughout I just kept wondering what was exactly going to happen. But the ending with that part? Perfect and well thought out!

In all, One Night by Deanna Cabinian is a great YA debut, great for fans of John Green and Maureen Johnson. I simply can't wait to see what Deanna writes next!

Grade: B+

One Night (Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble) is now out!

Source: eBook provided by author - thanks Deanna!


  1. These characters sound so full of life, even with their heartache, and I love the Hawaii setting! Perfect for summer.

    1. Yes, it really is perfect for summer!


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