Robyn Harding’s domestic drama, hailed as “tense and riveting” by Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls, explores the aftermath of a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, as the members of a wealthy family in San Francisco find 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, and 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 is exposed.
Perfect for fans of Big Little Lies, this is a white-knuckled and “riveting tale that is impossible to put down” (Bill Clegg, New York Times bestselling author of Did You Ever Have a Family).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The Party centers around a sweet-sixteen sleepover that goes tragically wrong. Nobody in the Sanders family is likeable—but they’re somehow relatable, making terrible decisions for understandable reasons like popularity, saving face, or rebellion against routine. Using alternating points of view, Robyn Harding slyly reveals the hidden prejudices of Jeff, Kim, and their daughter, Hannah, and casts a sharp, appraising eye on the modern family unit. It's a gripping, squirm-inducing read.
In Harding's (The Secret Desires of a Soccer Mom) latest incisive family drama, a 16th birthday party is the catalyst for an affluent family's fall from grace. Hannah is the well-behaved and well-adjusted daughter of Jeff and Kim Saunders, or so they think. When Hannah's low-key sweet 16 celebration pizza with a handful of friends becomes a test to see if she can cut it with her more mature friends Ronnie and Lauren, Hannah is willing to break the rules. The night quickly turns to terror when Ronnie has an accident that throws Hannah's parents and their choices into the spotlight, threatening to unravel everything they have built. Although the plot doesn't build the tension required to sustain the high drama of the novel, Harding expertly peeks into the darker corners of the high school experience. Hannah is a believably smart yet insecure teenage girl, and the conflict between her parents, who feel jarred by her growing up, and Hannah, who feels constantly reminded of how young she still is, rings true and textured. The premise, which often feels like a reworking of and homage to Herman Koch's The Dinner, feels simplistic at times, but the intricate family dynamics that Harding teases out are complex and engaging.
I’d recommend it to my friends, but don’t get your hopes up on a satisfying ending. The story gets resolved, but the author doesn’t tell us how. Throughout the novel, they talk about taking it to court, but there is no courtroom scene. But I enjoyed the conflict and critical thinking.
A fast and engaging read
I just discovered this author and I’m now reading everything she’s ever written. I love the character development and the pace at which she tells the story. It’s like gossiping with a friend.