Book Club: The Party

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Author: Robyn Harding
ISBN: 9781925596670
RRP: $29.99

The Party is the first book I have read by Robyn Harding and I managed to get an uninterrupted block of time Sunday morning to read so devoured it was.

Sweet Sixteen is a turning point in many young lives, it’s a birthday that is celebrated as special though I’m not really sure what the significance is. Hannah Sanders certainly found that her sweet sixteenth was a turning point in her life, and not necessarily in a good way.

Hannah doesn’t want a big party for her sweet sixteenth, just a small sleepover. She has always been a good daughter and a good student; she plays piano and sport and has never rebelled. Her parents are quite strict and they set out the rules as soon as all the girls arrive. A small list of rules that are quite reasonable and what you would expect really. No drinking, no drugs, no pornography, no smoking and no boys.

This wouldn’t have been an issue for the Hannah her parents see but Hannah has a boyfriend and a couple of new friends, and their idea of a party is a little different. Hannah is desperate to become one of the popular kids and if that means doing things a little differently for her party this year then she is most definitely in. She is determined not to let her parents and their rules ruin her chances at cementing her place in the popular crew.

Tragedy strikes at the party and everything from that point begins to unravel. A girl is left injured and the fallout is felt by everyone. It starts the unearthing of information best left hidden, for Hannah and her family but also for their wider circle.

Kim and Jeff Sanders have a picture-perfect family facade but that is far from the true story of their family, The Party begins to out the truth of their lives; the secrets, the scandals, the lies, the betrayals and the inner lives they try to hide even from themselves.

I think my biggest fear with reads like this is that I have a daughter just entering her teen years, and I remember being a teen girl, and it scares me how easily you are left questioning just how well you know your daughter, and if you really know what she is up to. Social media and mobile phones have changed the terrain for teenagers an awful lot since my time; it brings people closer but it also makes so many of the less desirable trials of adolescence more terrifying. Cyber-bullying is something that you couldn’t do when I was a teen, something so noxious and dangerous that is rife today and it leaves me cold to think of how damaging it can be.

The Party is told from different viewpoints in alternating chapters by Hannah, her parents and the mother of the injured girl; each chapter is headed by a name and number of days after the party to keep us on top of the passage of time.  The book is all in the third person though it focuses on different characters and what’s going on in their smaller circles.

A tragic accident cuts the party short leaving one girl in the hospital and the others driven home by Hannah’s dad Jeff. We are told what happened but there seems to be more than they’re letting on and it takes a while before we get the entire story.

Friends turn on each other, self-preservation instincts kick in and in all of the drama the one suffering the most is the poor girl injured at the party.

Hannah’s parents want to make sure people know they aren’t liable, and they have been cleared by the police, but Ronni’s mum wants someone to blame, and someone to pay. Jeff and Kim Sanders seem to have it all; the big house, the cars, the lifestyle that allows them to have the best of everything without Kim having to work while Ronni and single mum Lisa live in a small apartment so what better way to even the playing field than to sue them.

The behaviour of the parents gets pretty deplorable but it’s nothing on what’s going on with the teens.

I really enjoyed the read, the storyline kept me involved start to finish but the subject matter was really quite sad. The accident was exactly that, an accident, it could have happened to anyone but in the aftermath instead of banding together in support it ripped friendships apart and brought out the worst in people.

I was sympathetic to Hannah for the most part, she was trying too hard to be one of the cool kids and did things she wasn’t proud of; things she wasn’t sure about even as she did them but as the story progressed she seemed to be opening her eyes and reassessing her priorities. In the end I lost faith in her.

All in all this was an engrossing read that kept me involved, with the characters and the storyline. I enjoyed the drama behind the picture-perfect facade but I did find it difficult to be sympathetic to the characters that all ended up being so shallow and the teens that were so mean.

I would recommend to readers who are after a dark drama and it has been likened to The Slap (which I haven’t read) and Big Little Lies (which I haven’t read but did watch).

Robyn Harding can be found on Facebook and RobynHarding.com.

The Party is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Party so please be aware that there may be spoilers in the comments below.

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10 thoughts on “Book Club: The Party

  1. Wow! What a story and there’s a twist at the end that I never would have guessed and I don’t think that anyone would see coming. As Michelle commented above, I have a child just beginning his teenage years and two other children who aren’t too far behind – and how our new world scares me for them. This is a story about how lives can be changed in so many ways even when you start out thinking that you are doing the best and most responsible thing. I enjoyed everyone’s different viewpoint and how the characters developed after thinking how shallow and self-absorbed many of them were in the beginning. I was very disappointed in Hannah in the end, after thinking that she may have been one of the more sensible characters, as she did try to do the right thing after the incident, but I can’t believe how the story ended.

    This was a book that I found difficult to put down. Thank you Beauty and Lace for another great book review >:o)

  2. I really enjoyed this book, from the cover (yes I am one who does sadly judge a book by its cover!) to its final sentence (even if the main character did end up disappointing me) This is the first book I have read by Robyn Harding and am certainly going to be reading more!

    I found it a easy book to read and ended up completing it in a day. Although it didnt have you on the edge of the seat, it had enough to keep you turning the page and wanting more.

    The story is told by four main characters which all had their own demons to deal with (or hide). To me all the characters had something you liked and equally disliked at various stages of the story which is part of the reason I think the story kept me engaged. The storyline I felt was very relevant in todays society, its a story that could actually play out in your neighbourhood or group of friends now and not seem unrealistic.

    I would definitely recommend this to someone after something easy but engaging to read as well as mums with teenage daughters!!

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this book.

  3. I am new to the book club, “The Party” by Robyn Harding is the first book sent out to me to read and I wasn’t disappointed.

    This book is a great read about a wealthy seemingly perfect family consisting of Kim and Jeff and their two teenage children Hannah and Aidan. Behind closed doors things were not like they seemed.

    The book is based around Hannah’s Sweet 16 birthday party which went terribly wrong. The result was the secrets of the family were exposed and one of Hannah’s best friends Ronni was seriously injured and disfigured.

    The book tells the story of the terrible bullying Ronni had to endure as a result of her injury and the loss of her friendships. I was disappointed with Hannah’s character at the end of the book.

    I would recommend this book to mums like me with teenage children.

  4. What an amazing book!

    The Party by Robyn Harding is such a great, compelling read, I had trouble putting it down. Written in the viewpoint of four main characters, this modern story about bullying is a vital topic in today’s society. I have three teenagers in my household so bullying is currently very relevant to me. Things can change so quickly but it’s how we deal with the situation that is important.

    I was disappointed with the behaviour of some of the characters but this well-written book had me captivated from the beginning to the end.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this very interesting book.

  5. The party drew me in from the very first chapter and I really liked this book. I really liked the easy flowing style that the book was written in that made it effortless and enjoyable to read.

    The party focussed on the outward facing perfect Sanders family – a nuclear family with two parents and two teenager children. The story was based on Hannah’s sweet sixteen party and a tragic accident that occurs involving Hannah’s friend Ronni. The accident is the catalyst for a complete life change for both Hannah’s family and Ronni’s. Some important and very real concepts come up in the book including bullying and cyberbullying.

    The story is written from the perspectives of Hannah, her mum, her dad and Ronni’s mum. This gives us as the reader a really rounded and comprehensive view of the happenings of the story, as well as insight into the differing views of the characters and why they are acting in the ways they do. I didn’t actually find any of the characters particularly likable and they all make some poor decisions and act in some disappointing ways at least a couple of times each during the book.

    The ending was a little different to I expected, and while we do get a short snippet of the future a few months later this is only from Hannah’s perspective so many things are left without closure. I was disappointed with Hannah’s actions at the end of the book and thought it did leave it quite open ended, and it almost left me wondering if there could be a sequel in the future.

  6. The Party – It is hard to put this book down as the stories unfold. It could be a true story not fiction. This is a dark depressing story that reflects real life problems of teens and their families. No type of family is immune to teenage problems. Drugs, alcohol, jealousy, insecurity all play a part. wealth and success of the adults does not breed happiness.
    From a seemingly innocent 16th birthday party for a few friends of the main character Hannah, a “good” girl who yearns to be part of the “cool” group at her school, the unthinkable happens. Kim, Hannah’s mother believes she has the perfect family and simply expects that the girls will follow her rules. Of course the teenagers rebel and tragedy follows.
    Ronnie and Hannah have been long time friends and Lisa and Kim are friends. The gruesome accident to Ronnie reveals several secret flaws in the adult characters lives. Dislike turns to hatred. Adultery, lies, cover ups and drugs rear their ugly heads. Kim’s cold reaction to the accident results in the other mothers shunning her. Lisa demands money. Now the plot draws the reader into a compelling state of repulsion at the acts of sadistic bullying of the injured school girl.
    When Ronnie returns to school she is isolated and ridiculed by verbal and cyber bullying. mainly lead by the top dog Lauren. Ronnie attempts suicide just as she and Hannah are beginning to rebuild their friendship.
    Kim and Jeff are forced to accept that they must agree to Lisa’s monetary demands. This means a breakup of their family. To the reader this could be a expected outcome. To our horror we find that Hannah plans to continue the vendetta against Lauren. Not a “Happy Ending” book.

  7. The Party is not a feel good story at all. Instead it is a story that will make you stop and think about many different moral and ethical issues.
    Jeff and Kims life with their two children in their wonderful home thats in the right neighbourhood…it all seems so very perfect to those on the outside looking in but as often the way no one actually knows anothers story. Pretty much everyone in this story has their own secrets and aspects of their lives that they dont want others to know.
    Hannah is turning 16 and Jeff and Kim as her parents decide to allow her to have a pizza and sleep over party. What seems to be something simple turns into a nightmare for all involved. Lives are changed forever.
    We witness bullying and not only within the teenage group but with the adults as well.
    This book made me ponder many different things and im sure it will do the same for you.
    This would actually be a great book to read and then pass on to your teenage daughter if you have one. The conversations you could have afterwards would be wonderful.
    I very much enjoyed this book

  8. The party!!! And what a party it was!

    This book will have you hooked right up to the end.

    For those who have teenage children it will have you biting your nails thinking of your own…
    For those who have young children it will have you nervous of what is yet to come…
    And for those who have no children it will have you reminiscing or repressing memories of your youth!

    The story is being told by the three main characters with a smooth transition from one to the other. Life being told from their perspective before, during and after the party!

    I enjoyed this story greatly and my only disappointment was that I wanted more! Yes I am being selfish! I would have loved to know what else happened to the characters.

  9. I enjoyed reading the party. I got an idea from the teaser we were given what it was about if course, but it still travelled in many directions that I did not expect. I felt for Hannah, I really wanted things to be ok between her and Ronni, and Kim drove me insane! So judgemental and desperate to be a perfect mum that she seems to lose it all.
    This story covers so many aspects of life – bullying, harassment, parenthood, money worries, and so much more that we all deal with or have dealt with – that it was easy to read because it was so easy to empathise with at least some of the characters.
    Like the other reviewers, I certainly didn’t pick the ending, I expected a resolution of sorts, but not how it panned out or how things were left. Here’s hoping there will be a follow on from here as I would love to know what Hannah does next!

  10. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this book!

    It was a complex read, the writing style was fantastic and flowed well, but the subject matter was very dark.

    It was interesting to see how the accident at the party impacted so many people in so many different ways. The multiple viewpoints helped to showcase that and the dated chapters helped the reader to know where we were up to.

    As much as I loved the writing, a number of the characters drove me crazy – I think it was the pure nastiness that some of them seemed to possess.

    As some of the other reviewers have mentioned, it seems to be a reflection on the different aspects of society and exposes some of the darker sides that we turn a blind eye to at times.

    I look forward to reading more of Robyn Harding’s books.

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