The Party by Robyn Harding is one of those books that absolutely grabs you and makes you want to keep reading. Jeff and Kim Sanders are the 'perfect' family with two great kids who would never do anything wrong. Or so they think. They throw a sixteenth birthday for their daughter, Hannah, who is a smart, sweet girl with a great head on her shoulders. Again, or so they think. One of Hannah's friends is tragically injured at the party, which leads to a lawsuit and their perfect lives begin to crumble around them. Suddenly no one in the family is as perfect as they may seem.
I read this book in two days, which honestly with a 9 month old, is a feat these days. That is truly a testament to how good this book was. I loved how real the story was. A teenager getting injured at an unsupervised party is definitely not far-fetched and neither is what follows. This book shows what can happen when your perfect façade is turned completely upside down. No one in the Sanders family is who they seem to be, and there were things that I did not see coming at all. You'll be surprised at which Sanders family member is the most imperfect.
It makes you wonder how you'd react as both the mother of the injured teen and also as the mother of the party-thrower. As moms, we definitely have mama-bear instincts, but how far is too far? When does justice become about more than just justice? The questions The Party had me asking myself made it that much more interesting and fun to read.
I rated this one 4 out of 5 stars, and I'm looking forward to picking up other books by Robyn Harding. I read most of this before bed, but I think it would be a fantastic book to read while sitting on a deck by the lake. Definitely add this to your summer TBR!
I was lucky enough to be offered a Q&A with the author, Robyn Harding, as part of the blog tour. See below for more insight into this great book!
1) Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
I like to take very real, very relatable situations and then take them to the edge. Or right off the cliff, as is the case in The Party. I think most readers can relate to the concept of a sweet sixteen party where teens drink behind their parents’ backs. But I wanted to explore what would happen when the unimaginable occurs, and how everyone involved would deal with the fallout.
2) Why did you choose to write from multiple characters’ perspectives?
I find it fascinating how people perceive situations, particularly conflict, differently. Husbands and wives, kids and parents, friends and neighbors, can all have incredibly diverse points of view on the same events. I felt that a dramatic situation like the one in the book would be much more interesting if we could examine it through several different lenses.
3) If you were Lisa and your child was hurt, do you think you'd react the same way she did? Would you have gone after the Sanders in the same way? Would you feel vindicated if you won?
I am the most non-confrontational person in the world, but, like most mothers, I can be fierce when it comes to my kids. Still, I wouldn’t attack Jeff and Kim like Lisa did. The Sanders are superficial, disingenuous, unpleasant people but the accident was not their fault. And while Lisa thinks she’s looking out for her daughter, she’s subconsciously operating from a place of jealousy and resentment. Three million dollars would be life changing, but I wouldn’t feel satisfied or vindicated if I got it by suing my neighbours.
4) Kim seems very shocked to learn the things Hannah's been doing. Do you think a parent can ever truly know their own kid(s)?
I have two teenagers. My daughter and I have a very open, communicative relationship. My son is less forthcoming, but if I ask him something point-blank, he seems incapable of lying to me. But I’m sure they both have aspects of their lives that they keep from their mom. What normal kid doesn’t? When I was a teenager, I was incredibly sneaky. My poor mom had NO idea!
5) It seems like all the Sanders have secrets. They don't seem very connected and just do their own thing. How do you think a family gets to that point? Is there any way to fix it?
I think the characters in this story have all lost touch with what is truly important: love, connection, authenticity…. They’re obsessed with superficial things like appearances and possessions, so they’re all unfulfilled. Sadly, I don’t think it would be hard for a family to lose each other in today’s competitive, status-conscience society. Sometimes, it takes a dramatic event to make people realize what really matters. Unfortunately for the family in The Party, the crisis brought out the worst in all of them.
Thank you, Robyn! The book is on sale today and I definitely recommend picking it up!
I was provided with a free copy of the book from Simon and Schuster Canada, but as always, opinions are my own.