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Monday, October 9, 2017

REVIEW: The Party by Robyn Harding @scoutpressbooks #robynharding

The Party
by Robyn Harding
Scout Press / Simon & Schuster


Big thank you to Scout Press for this copy in return for my honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds themselves entangled in a legal battle, 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 picture perfect life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to unravel. A lawsuit is filed that irrevocably changes their relationship, reveals dark secrets in the Sanders’ marriage, and exposes the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah.

Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little LiesThe Party takes us behind the façade of the perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

My Review:

You remember your sixteenth birthday party don't you?  Booze, drugs, sneaking boys in?  Nah, that didn't happen at mine either but I know some crazy stuff (for that age) would happen at other houses.  For this story, it happened at Hannah's.  Due to the combination above, Ronni ends up crashing through a glass table, disfiguring herself and now the blame game begins.

I have heard so many mixed things about this book so I went in with a little trepidation.  However, it was pretty much exactly what I was expecting.  I never thought it would be a thriller type book with any big reveal.  I did think maybe it was going to be more of a character study, which I have found recently isn't my thing either.  It is a linear novel about how one terrible tragedy affects high school politics and the parents of those involved - pretty much exactly as the synopsis suggests.

High school politics can be excruciating.  As a teenager, that is your entire life and I think the author projects it well just how cruel they can be... and how quickly statuses can change.  Every single character in this book is flawed and unlikable.  I do know that I would do anything for my family so as much as it was frustrating to see these families go at it at the expense of their children, I could almost understand why they were doing it.  The teenagers though.. oh my geezuz - the reflection of bullying on all platforms was rough but not unrealistic.  

I can see why some people might not like this book as maybe something more is needed.  I went in with no expectations and ended up enjoying it.  It's frustrating and sometimes I wanted to scream at the characters for being such selfish pricks but overall, it's well done in the showing of how families can work - from the point of view of the teenagers to the adult difficulties of marriage.  I'm at war with how I feel about the ending... but I suppose some lessons are still to be learned the even harder way.  

This is a story about legal battles, secrets families keep from each other, a tragedy and the aftermath in trying to do the right thing.  It's straight forward and while it could fall flat in certain parts, I did enjoy the journey.  This may not be a good fit for those who want that faster pace, tense, suspenseful read.  However, if you like that kind of book where there's no big plot reveal but a journey through the emotions of the characters then you'd do well to pick this one up.


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