The Party by Robyn Harding
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on June 6th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Drama
In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.
One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.
Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?
But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.
** Received an ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion at all. Thank you!! **
The novel, The Party, is about the outcome of a sweet sixteen party gone wrong. The story revolves around Hannah, who had some friends over for a sleepover, on her sixteenth birthday. Her and her friends sneak in alcohol, against her mother’s rules, and one of Hannah’s friends Ronni, get seriously injured.
I enjoyed the way in which the author set each chapter on a different character’s perspective. There’s Kim, Hannah’s mom, her dad Jeff, Lisa which is Ronni’s mom and of course Hannah. The author goes back-and-forth between perspective. However, it is written in third person. I think that if it were written in first person I could have related more to the character or connected with them better.
With that being said, I had a hard time connecting to this novel over all. The author hides information and slowly reveals information, trying to keep you on your toes. I kept reading and going chapter to chapter waiting for that big reveal, that big wow moment, however that moment never came. I believe the moment that was supposed to be the big reveal or the big shocker, was when the author finally revealed that at Hannah’s birthday party, boys showed up. Prior to that moment there’s a scene where Hannah is at school with a friend and the two boys show up and they emphasize to make sure that nobody knows about the party. It was pretty obvious prior to that point, that her boyfriend would show up at the party. As a former 16-year-old girl that’s not a shocker to have boys come to a party. We’ve all seen the teen movies where girls have a sleepover party and boys get snuck in. So to me this just wasn’t shocking.
Overall, I had such a hard time with this novel. For one, I struggled with deciding whether this book was a Young Adult genre or not. The way that the story emphasizes so much perspective on Hannah and her friends at school, what happened at the party, and the aftermath of the party, really led me to believe that this novel should have been categorized as Young Adult. The story ends with Hannah still wanting to be a part of the cool crowd and still wanting to be Miss Popular at school. As a 30-year-old woman, I don’t necessarily care what Hannah does at school. I don’t care if she gets picked on at school. I don’t care that she still wants to be apart of the cool crowd. I care about how broken her parents are now that they’ve settled a 3 million Dollar lawsuit.
I wish the author had written this novel in parts, instead of chapters; Part 1: what happened at the party from Hannah’s perceptive. Part 2: The parents point of view. Part 3: How they come together and complete the lawsuit.
Overall, I did not enjoy this story. It focused too much on Hannah and her friend’s lives for me to really connect to it.
Until next time,
I am the author of the domestic drama, The Party published in June 2017, by Scout Press/Simon & Schuster. I have also written four novels of contemporary women’s fiction (AKA chick-lit), a young adult novel, and a comedic memoir with an environmental focus. My books have been translated into seven languages. I am also the screenwriter and executive producer of the independent film, The Steps which premiered at TIFF and was the closing gala film at the Miami International Film Festival. I live in Vancouver, BC with my husband, two kids, and a seven pound dog with no teeth.