Book of the Week: The Party by Robyn Harding

Book of the Week: The Party by Robyn Harding

xthe-party.jpg.pagespeed.ic.nlA3OqZX-0The Party is a dark and compelling domestic drama. It’s the story of one family’s unravelling after an innocent birthday party goes wrong; a page-turner that will keep you both appalled and engrossed to the end.

On the face of it, Kim is a very lucky woman. She lives in a beautiful home in one of San Francisco’s affluent suburbs, with a highly successful husband and two well-adjusted teenage children. When we meet Kim, she’s preparing for her daughter Hannah’s sixteenth birthday party. It’s just a few friends sleeping over, some pizza and presents. Kim’s a good parent, so there will be no alcohol and boys, of course.

Or will there? Hannah’s a good girl too but she’s been trying to get in with the cool set at school and so, in addition to her old friends, she invites some new ones too and that sets things off on a disastrous course. Nothing goes according to plan and in a dreadful turn of events, there is a horrible accident that leaves one of the girls, Ronni, in hospital and potentially damaged for life.

Kim and Jeff are horrified by what happened and full of sympathy for Ronni and her single parent mum Lisa, who was once a friend of Kim’s, but they must examine if their own negligence contributed to the accident. Lisa certainly thinks so and she files a lawsuit against the well-off couple, seeking vast amounts of damages. Other parents at the school have their opinions on what happened that night and it seems like everyone is judging Kim and Jeff. Soon there are revelations from their pasts that they’d both much rather keep under wraps and the cracks in their outwardly good marriage start to show.

Robyn HardingThe Party is one of those stories that grips you from the start – while we can sometimes feel for Jeff and Kim as they navigate what would be every teenage parent’s worst nightmare, we also wish they’d behave differently. No one here is perfect – not Hannah’s parent’s, nor Ronni’s mother. Many of the children at school act in deplorable ways to and even Hannah, previously likeable, often falls short. How everyone reacts to the chain of events, the adults and the children, is flawed – and therefore all too real.

As we watch Kim and Jeff flail and fail through their awful predicament, we’re torn between sympathy and censure. There are moments of humour in The Party with Harding’s insightful depictions of modern life but much is shocking and this thought-provoking and wholly entertaining novel confronts modern issues of parenting, bullying, alcohol and drugs, marriage and infidelity. Ultimately there is some resolution as the families attempt to build their lives in the face of catastrophe.

Robyn Harding is the author of several books and has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and two children.

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                      Synopsis

                      One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.Sweet sixteen. It's a coming of age, a milestone, a rite of passage. Of course Jeff and Kim Sanders would throw a party for their daughter, Hannah. She was a good kid with good grades and nice friends. And it wasn't a big, indulgent affair. It was just four girls coming over for pizza and cake, movies and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?But things did go wrong, horrifically wrong. When a tragic accident leaves one of the young guests disfigured, Jeff and Kim's flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb begins to unravel. The injured girl's mother, Lisa, files a lawsuit that turns friends into enemies, reveals dark secrets in the Sanders' marriage, and exposes the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah. Lisa's determination to make the Sanders pay stems from a fierce love for her only child and Lisa's own dark and damaged past.At school, Hannah must deal with the ugly aftermath as her peers turn on the victim, and she struggles to maintain her social standing while heeding her moral compass. Her popular best friend, Lauren, is losing herself to drugs, alcohol, and a relationship with an inappropriate older man. Then a shocking, horrifying act of desperation rocks their upscale world and brings everything to a halt. And no one's life will ever be the same.In The Party, Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap meets Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, taking us behind the façade of the perfect family, exploring the secrets, betrayals, and moral lapses the neighbors don't see.The Party uncovers the lies and duplicities that children and parents tell each other. And tell themselves.Do you really know what your daughter is up to?About the AuthorRobyn Harding is the author of several books and has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and two children.
                      Robyn Harding
                      About the author

                      Robyn Harding

                      Robyn Harding is the author of several books and has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and two children.

                      Books by Robyn Harding

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