THE PARTY, BY ROBYN HARDING
PUBLICATION: GALLERY/SCOUT PRESS; JUNE 6, 2017
About the book:
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.
Holy crap readers, I don’t know where to begin with this one! Talking about a disturbing read for parents of teenagers… I’m not sure whether to advise all parents to read this book before allowing their child to have and/or participate in a sleepover or if I should say to never read this because it will put the fear of God in you!
Jeff and Kim live in a beautiful home, have beautiful cars, beautiful boat, and of course – two beautiful children. It’s their daughter Hannah’s sweet sixteen and she is having four girlfriends over for a sleepover. They order pizza and Kim prepares plenty of healthy snacks and sodas for the girls. Oh, and she also threatens them regarding any smoking, drinking, drugs, boys, or porn. All seems well until Kim and Jeff are woken up in the middle of the night and see Hannah standing in their bedroom crying and covered in blood and vomit.
To begin, this was an incredible novel. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time and evoked every emotion imaginable. Fear, disgust, disappointment, shock, sadness, and on and on. I can’t talk about the plot much because so many things happen that all add up to the unraveling of Jeff and Kim’s family, plus several others. However, I think my most frequent reaction while reading this was, “No! What the hell are you thinking? Don’t do that or say that!” Every mistake known to mankind was made by these characters – and that is not an exaggeration. However, they are all mistakes that any of us could easily make. Not all of us would do all of these things, but I could easily see any average man, woman, child doing these things.
Take Mean Girls, The Dinner, and Crazy, Stupid Love – mix them together and you will get The Party. The terrifying thing about The Party is that this story is something that could happen to anyone. Granted, their lives were not as pretty as they pretended, but so many lives fell apart throughout this novel – all because of one evening with a bunch of teenage kids doing things that shouldn’t have done. What’s frightening is most of us have done the same things they did at some point while we were growing up. As I said earlier, if you have teenagers this novel could quite possibly scare the crap out of you… But the lesson in this dark story is that our lives can change in an instant and things we think are “secrets” will usually come out eventually. Therefore – be honest, don’t lie, and for God’s sake don’t let your girls have a sleepover!
Last thing – if you have read this I would love your take on the last page or so regarding the text that Hannah sent… Did things happen the way she said or was she just looking for revenge?
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review.