Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Review: The Party by Robyn Harding

Title: The Party
Author: Robyn Harding
Published: June 2017, Gallery/Scout Press
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Personal copy

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.

Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the fa├žade of the picture-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 thoughts: I won a copy of this book from a friend's blog and it certainly is the type of book that provides much food for thought. I definitely don't envy parents today...there is so much you need to worry about and this book is just one example of how even when you have the best intentions at heart, all it takes it one bad call in judgement for a ripple-like effect of epic portions to occur.

I think what strikes me the most with this book is that as much as I liked it, I did not necessary like any of the characters - or rather, most of the time, I disliked most of the characters the majority of the time for the way they acted. They seemed to have a sense of self-importance about them, a sense of self-entitlement that just grated on me. It was only a a select few characters and only in a few circumstances that did in fact redeem themselves so that I did not completely dislike all of them. 

But despite this - I still liked the book, weird as that sounds. I think the message this book conveys is an important one. I know that this is a work of fiction and it is meant as a means of escapism, but just how much of this is happening in today's world? This book is going to make you think and it will make you realize that there are often far reaching consequences from one little accident. That pebble that falls or gets thrown into a pond doesn't just make one ripple - it makes many ripples - and that is what we see here.

This book would make a fantastic book club pick - it is rich with points for discussion. Between the secrets that the parents keep from each other to the secrets the children keep from their parents to the actions that each take to the way everyone behaves after the accident, and even to the question of culpability.

 All in all, this is a compelling read that deals with some moral dilemmas that will have you thinking about the situation long after you read the last page.


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