Book Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars to The Party by Robyn Harding.
Why This Book
The publisher, Gallery Books, sent me a copy of this book either because I won a Goodreads Giveaway or they thought I might like the book (I get lots of books and I can’t remember how this one came to me exactly). I’m trying to close up my 2017 Reading Challenge and clean off all the outstanding books my bookshelf, so this one’s turn was up next!
Plot, Characters & Setting
Hannah is turning 16. Her parents throw her and some friends a party in the basement of their $2.5 million San Francisco home. Hannah invites some of the popular girls, as her fame is on the rise. She wants to fit in, but the girls bring alcohol and drugs. When something awful happens, her parents, Jeff and Kim, are thrust into a lawsuit and a divided high school. Hannah’s friends are typical 16-year-old girls searching for acceptance and adult experiences. Kim and Jeff’s marriage is having a few issues and they are each keeping a secret from one another. Their friends aren’t sure what’s wrong, but someone isn’t telling the truth about the night of the party. The novel explores the lengths to which parents will go to protect their children, as well as those young adults will go to keep their own secrets.
Approach & Style
I read this 340 page paperback book in two sittings over the course of one day. It absorbed me! It’s told in third person POV from the perspective of 4 or 5 main characters. Chapters alternate their focus, revealing different aspects of a story over the course of a 6-month period. The writing is clear and concise, which made it quite a quick read.
Strengths & Concerns
Harding quickly makes you dislike these characters, which is a good thing. I was immediately taken back to what life was like in high school for many students. While I felt some components were an exaggeration, I also know that things like this happened to varying degrees. For the most part, it really captured the reality of what 16-year-old girls go through, but it also showcased a particularly nasty strain of kids hoping to climb to the top. It angered me (the plot), but it also impressed me (the quality of the details). I enjoyed the leaps between different characters. It was a page-turner for me and brought me back to when I once lived in San Francisco.
On the flip side, the ending was not what I wanted nor expected. It had a few too many open questions. For a story with lots of tight components, I think this was a bit of a let-down. Ultimately, I’m not sure if I learned a less or just saw a slice of life during a short time period. I’d be fine if it were either case, but it was a bit too blurry. I definitely took sides in the conflict, which makes me wonder what kind of a person I am… in terms of who I rooted for. While I understand both sides, ultimately, the wrong people were punished for something they had little responsibility for. At the same time, it propelled the lives of every person in that school toward a new direction. If everything came together better in the end, this would have been a solid 4-rated book for me, but it unraveled in a few too many places so I knocked a half star off.
I’d still recommend this book despite the ending which threw me too much. You’ll be drawn in and really enjoy witnessing the battle, as there isn’t necessarily a right and wrong in an unfortunate accident like this one. It’s a strong point of view and really shows the differences in the way parents and children think.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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English: containing roots from England
We’ve concluded another week, and on this, the third 365 Challenge Sunday, it’s time to select one of the countries from which my ancestors hail. I’m about 33% English, though Ancestry says my DNA is 81% English; however, those numbers include Irish, and Scottish, which will be next week’s “end-of-the-week” post, thus covering my four primary heritages. But I’m pretty certain at least half of me hails from Great Britain when I look at all the records and the family genes. I am pretty pale, remember! My favorite English last name in my family history: Pantridge. So formal and eloquent.
I’ve been fascinated with the royal families and ascendancy to the thrones of England for years. At one point, I could name most of the Kings and Queens in order, but I’ve forgotten some of those details in recent years. I would love to find out that I descend from one of them, but I highly doubt it’s true. Perhaps Henry VIII’s court jester is my real ancestor!
And in keeping with tradition, I’ve located the Top 10 English traits… but this time, it’s according to the Metro UK news. Let’s see how I fare:
1. Talking about the weather
- I do often use that as an easy line of conversation, given that I tend to be shy and quiet when it comes to conversing with others. I am fascinated by whether it will be warm or cold, rainy or dry. I hate, loathe and despise hot weather. I prefer the temperature to be a nice 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A good topic for another day!
- Score: 1 out of 1.
2. Great at queueing
- Yes! I love lines. It’s the most fair way to ensure those of us who arrive early don’t get left out when a crowd forms. My favorite place for a proper queue is at the airport, but it does not always happen. Each American airline (don’t get me started on other countries’ approach to the ticket counter) calls group by group to queue for an orderly on-boarding to the aircraft. EXCEPT, most Americans (of which I am one) are RUDE (not me, I am orderly). They all just run to the line even though their group hasn’t been called, and then orderly people like me have to ask people to move, step over all their luggage, blah blah blah. Get the @#*& out of my way is what I really want to say. Wait your turn. If you’re group 5, don’t stand right at the beginning of the line. Don’t be an @$$^&*%. OK, rant done.
- Score: 2 out of 2.
- I had a post dedicated to that… remember? Although, someone wise said I am probably more clever, so…perhaps not. But in general, I think the English are sarcastic like I am – never in a cruel way.
- Score: 3 out of 3.
4. Watching soaps
- Yes, I must confess. I used to watch a lot of soap operas when I was a teenager, not including prime time soaps. Let’s see if I can remember them: Loving (became The City), Another World, Days of Our Lives, As The World Turns and Guiding Light. I had lots of VCR tapes going while I was in school. And I also had 3 magazine subscriptions to keep me well read when not watching them on TV. Such a LOSER!!!!!
- Special Kudos to anyone who can name the fake soap opera in the clip below.
- Score: 4 out of 4.
5. Getting drunk
- I remember covering this during the Irish post. Are all British drunks? Or is it really just everyone in the world at this point? Yikes. But no, I’m not a drunk. I drink but know when to stop on most occasions.
- Score 4 out 5.
6. A love of bargains
- No, definitely not me. I am careful with money, but I am not a bargain shopper. I like to get a discount, and I will usually balance quality and cost when making a purchase, but I always wonder “what’s wrong with this?” when it seems like a bargain.
- Score: 4 out of 6.
7. A love of curtain twitching
- I am stumped. What the… is curtain twitching? Let’s Google it……… OK, I’m back. OMG, I would not have guessed this. Seriously? OK, well curtain twitching is “a nosy person who watches his or her neighbours, typically from a curtained window.” AND it uses the British spelling in the word “neighbours.” Laughing so hard, I can only think of one thing. AbFab! Too bad they weren’t actually curtain twitching the neighours in the clip below. But yeah, I’m a little nosy sometimes. Remember curious?
- Score 5 out of 7.
8. Stiff upper lip
- Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not. I tend to be pretty strong, but not always. I’m gonna say yes to this one.
- Score: 6 out of 10.
9. Love of all television
- I watch TV almost every day. Besides reading, it’s the other hobby I have that involves sitting down a lot. 🙂
- Score: 7 out of 9.
10. Always saying sorry
- I used to do this ALL the time. I’m much better about it now, but if I get too close to someone and almost bump them, the first words out of my mouth are “I’m sorry.” It would never occur to me to say “excuse me” or “watch where you’re going!” I always assume it was my fault.
- Score: 8 out of 10.
And what does this tell me? I am emblematic of 80% of these things… and that matches the 81% noted above. How am I always so in sync with my DNA? Quite a stumper…
Irish: containing roots from Ireland
On this, the seventh day of my 365 Challenge, and in honor or St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week, I have chosen a more physical characteristic about myself on which to blog: I’m about 20% Irish (as near as I can figure). Add in some German, English and Scottish, and you’ve got the rest. I look pretty much like you’d expect for this conversation, as PALE as could be!
I’m an avid genealogist who has traced back each branch of my family tree at least 6 generations; some are over 10! It appears as if I have about 20% of my roots in Ireland (both Northern Ireland and Ireland), arriving in the U.S.A. between the 1860s and the 1880s. There’s a bit of a blurred line for some of the Northern Ireland branches as I am not certain if they are truly English or Irish based on the information I’ve discovered. The key names: McDonald, McGuire, Graeme and Flint.
According to a Huffington Post article, originally sourced from Quora, there are 4 commonly “accepted” stereotypes about Irish people: (a) Frequent Drinkers, (b) Violent Fighters, (c) Red Hair, and (4) Articulate Wordsmiths. Let’s see how that applies to me:
- Frequent Drinkers:
- I’d say compared to the stereotype, I’d likely not be considered a frequent drinker, but I’m definitely a drinker. It wavers… at some points in my life, I barely drank and at others, I’d have 1 or 2 every night. There have certainly been a fair share of excessive nights of drinking (mostly college), and one or two a year where a big group of friends just have a party and I succumb.
- What do I drink? Champagne. Wine. Whiskey. Lighter mixed drinks. I’ll drink beer and the occasional shot, but I’m more about something with a good taste or lengthy distillation or fermentation process. Whiskey & Ginger Ale is my go to drink. I can drink an entire bottle of champagne in one sitting at dinner. And I’m a Pinot Noir when it comes to wine.
- Why? It tastes good. It lightens my nerves (remember that post???). I’m not one to go to a bar, in fact, I dislike bars for obvious reasons (see post about my shyness)!
- In conclusion, I don’t think I’m the stereotypical example in this case.
- Score: 0 out of 1.
- Violent Fighters:
- In comparison to the stereotype, I’m far from it. I’m not a peace-loving pacifist either, but I tend to shy away from arguing or fighting, whether it’s physical or verbal.
- Once in grammar school, when I was about 11 or 12, I punched someone. He was laughing at me and I’d had enough, so I hit him. That was the only time I ever hit someone. On the opposite side, my first ex punched me when we broke up because of well… that confession I told you about in the post on honesty. End result — 2 punches in my entire lifetime. That’s pretty good odds that I’m not a fighter!
- However… as a result of being so shy and generally calm (a post for another day), when I do get angry, it is extremely intense and volatile. Not physical. But I will spew several expletives, turn quite red and be unable to sit still.
- In conclusion (ugh, I sound so dull and formal), another miss…
- Score: 0 out of 2.
- Red Hair:
- Oh… this is going to be a fun one. When I was born and up until 3 or 4, I’m told I had blond hair color. As I aged, it turned darker and was a medium brown. When I hit about 20, I started to get a little grey on the sides. And for the last 20 years, the grey continues to takeover. However…
- I’ve also dyed my hair for the last 15 years… ever since the first few strands of grey started to come in. Two reasons: (1) I’m very vain and (2) I tend to like going a little darker and a little lighter every so often. I get bored with my appearance and shift it around a little bit. We all do it… no judgments please! 😊 I’ve always admitted it when asked. I don’t lie about it. But I also haven’t really ever volunteered it.
- That said…over the last 20 years, the brown has started to take on a much stronger reddish tone. And the dye brings out the red even more. So, under the initial layer, I suppose I do have a noticeable percent of red hair. I’m certainly not bright red. And it’s much more apparent in the summer and in the sun. Maybe just like 20% of my DNA is Irish, 20% of my hair is red. Wouldn’t that be ironic!
- The HP and Quora post noted about 10% of the Irish are red-heads, which is the second highest right behind the Scottish with 13%. So… if I’m 20% Irish and 10% of the Irish have red hair (there’s a dirty limerick in here somewhere), then I had a 1 out of 50 chance of having a full head of red hair. (Oh, I’m good at statistics too… but that’s for another day)… I’d say given I have some strong red tones burrowing through frequently but I’m not a red head, I’m gonna give myself .1 for this trait, thus…
- Score: .1 out of 3.
- Articulate Wordsmith:
- Well, if you know me, then that’s a definite YES! I mean… I’m doing this 365 Day Challenge. I’m a writer. At work, people LOVED to read emails from me but HATED to read them because it took so long. Hopefully in a good way.
- Truth be told, yes, for the most part, I am a natural wordsmith. I have a fairly good vocabulary. I know the grammar rules and usually only break them intentionally or when I’m not being formal. I tend to say more than I need to just because I have so many words to choose from, bouncing around my mind.
- However… there is some part of me, maybe 10%, where I stumble on my words. I think I know the definition of something, but I’m extrapolating too far and it doesn’t actually apply in the case I’m using it. Sometimes I forget words and it comes out like a 2 year old trying to talk (without even drinking). And occasionally I just say the wrong word; the right one is in my head but the wrong word comes out. And I have no idea why. I believe I think more quickly than I can actually articulate, hence the mouth and brain coordination is slightly off, but that’s an uneducated guess.
- So, in conclusion, once again, this is definitely a true statement, thus…
- Score: 1.1 out of 4.
Taking all that in… I’d say the 20% to 25% Irish is about accurate. In a funny kind of mathematical way. Too bad I don’t have the actual accent… I find it kinda sexy!
Shy: being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people
Am I shy? My instinct is to say overwhelmingly yes, but I’m more like the 80/20 rule when it comes to being shy. How so, you ask?
Undoubtedly, if I walk into a room where I do not know anyone, I will find the closest empty spot and attempt to blend into the scenery (wearing those plain colors comes in handy, you see, of course)! Strangers are scary. They want you to talk to them. They look at you and probably make up terribly embarrassing things about you. OK, now that’s just silliness.
Yes, I am shy and I do try to blend into the scenery. I worry about others’ perceptions of me, but not enough that I am overly anxious about it. I probably won’t be the person who initiates a conversation if I am completely foreign to the crowd and the gathering’s purpose is not something I am passionate about. For example… if I were to walk into a crowded room of readers, genealogists, writers, grandmothers, etc., I’d feel comfortable and strike up a conversation. But if I walked into a room of people all waiting in line for something, or an auto parts store, or even a train station, I would not want to interact with anyone.
I don’t get obviously nervous, e.g. sweating profusely or babbling. I just pull out my phone or a book and ignore everyone else rather than make an effort to be congenial. If someone attempts conversation with me, it’s a 50/50 shot whether or not I will respond with any sort of non-verbal or verbal invitation to continue to conversation. I won’t be rude, but I’ll use close-ended answers rather than be open-ended in my replies, hopefully politely discouraging further attempts at communication.
That said, if I walk into a room full of people with common interests, I will initiate conversation. And if it’s people I know, I will also converse and enjoy the time. But I’m not entirely comfortable where I let my guard down. I still consciously think about the fact that I’m around more than 1 or 2 people at a single time and need to be acutely aware of everything I say and do.
However, on some rare occasions, when it’s more than just me and 1 or 2 other people, I do find myself quite comfortable around others and willing to talk or engage in some sort of discourse. And when it does, there have been 3 types of scenarios or reactions:
- I’ve had a few drinks such that I’m less conscious of my surroundings but not so altered to the point where anyone would think differently. It’s enough to make me what I assume is how everyone else generally feels: Comfortable, unconcerned, open, relaxed…
- I’m having a rather confident day where I feel ultra sexy, handsome, smart, cute <<insert adjective related to wherever it is I am>>; as a result, I feel like I’m standing out for positive reasons and others will naturally flock towards me. (No, I don’t think I have self-image issues… it’s more like… “I’m fine with who I am and being average, but today I see a whole lot more.”)
- I’m in search of something that I believe I can catch, conquer, amass, learn or get. Perhaps I was in a bar/club and flirting in search of meeting someone. Or maybe I’m trying to show off certain strengths to convince someone to do something my way. It could be that I’m the focal point among people I’m known for a long enough time period where I know they know my flaws and idiosyncrasies, and I don’t mind it being obvious!
I certainly couldn’t claim I’m 100% shy, especially given some of the things I’ve seen myself do over the years. I am fairly strong when it comes to public speaking. I’ve led teams of over 100 people in the corporate world. I’ve flirted and left a bar with someone I barely knew. I’ve been naked (without having any drinks) in front of a few others for a non-sexual purpose. (A dare… don’t ask… it’s enough to admit it).
But my initial reaction to anything I believe will have people I don’t know is generally not a positive one. When friends suggest bringing another friend along, my mind thinks “scary stranger.” When someone talks to me in public, I’m usually highly aware of my surroundings but at the same time, turning off an ability to hear anyone say something. So while I know there are 3 people in one corner and an exit in another and a cashier looking around for the manager, I fail to recognize 1 of those 3 people just said “excuse me, do you know where ‘x’ is?” And when I do, I ALWAYS respond with “I’m sorry, what?” and an expression similar to that of a 3 year-old being forced to eat vegetables.
I am pretty sure my body language gives off the vibe “don’t talk to me” but on the flip side, when I do know you, absolutely no topic is off limits. You want me to reveal a horrible secret about me, sure… I’m honest and blunt about those things. You want to talk about something deep and troubling, OK, happy to cover how it felt to have a kidney stone at 8 years-old screaming “what the hell is coming out of my #$#@.” (I got a puppy out of it because no one believed me when I said I was peeing blood!) I’ve got super high boundaries but they are very easily removed.
So there’s the 20%. A bit disorganized today in my thoughts, but at the same time, I think it probably showcases a lot about who I am.
365 Challenge: For those new to these posts, I’m posting a characteristic I either currently have or I want to have. Check out more here.