By Robyn Harding
Published by Gallery/Scout Press
on June 6, 2017
Cover image and 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 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 façade 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.
I was really intrigued by this book, and read it in a couple of days. It was such a tantalizing set up: a terrible incident at a sweet sixteen slumber party, in a house where the family is not as perfect as it seems from the outside, with chapters from different characters’ perspectives, showing the reader who is keeping secrets from whom, circling around what really happened that night.
I definitely got a Herman Koch The Dinner vibe from this book, so if you read and liked that, The Party is probably a book that you’ll be interested in.
One thing that I kind of liked was just how infuriating and awful everyone was! Each character did things that drove me nuts, making it really difficult for me to decide who I believed and who I was rooting for. A story full of unlikable characters is maybe not something that appeals to all readers, and it doesn’t always work for me, but it did here.
Towards the end, things got a little boring for me, and then when I finished, I wasn’t sure how I felt.
SPOILER! Skip to next paragraph to avoid spoilers. Did I find out what really happened the night of the party? I don’t think I did, but that’s what I most wanted to know. In Hannah’s chapter showing the night of the party, she didn’t see what happened because she was making out with Noah. But then at the end, in her text, she said that she saw Lauren push Ronni. So if that was a lie, then I don’t actually know what happened. Grr. End of spoilers!
So I have mixed feelings about this book. I found it really gripping until the end, sadly. But if you want to read a book full of annoying people treating each other horribly, this might be the book for you!