Thursday, 11 August 2011
Review: Party by Tom Leveen
Publisher: Random House US
Released: April 5th, 2011
Grade rating: B+/A-
It's Saturday night in Santa Barbara and it seems like everyone is headed to the same destination. The reason is simple: to celebrate the end of school. But for eleven different people the motives are bit more complicated—to be noticed, to hook up, to make friends, to numb the pain, to get over an ex, to say goodbye. As each character takes a turn and tells his/her story, the eleven individuals intersect, reconnect, and combine in ways that none of them ever saw coming.
I love contemporary books like this, when they can be real and make me feel like I know each and every character inside out, as if they could be my own friends or students from my own school days. For me there's nothing better than getting inside someone's head and learning enough to form an instant opinion of them. I didn't think that Party, with its multiple narrations and fairly short chapters, would let me do that, but it did. Each of the eleven protagonists who make up this novel get between 15-35 pages to tell their side of the night's proceedings, and each one couldn't be more different from the last.
I liked every person in Party, especially Beckett, Max, Azize and Ashley. Their stories struck a chord with me, and I think they made the most progress that night. I loved the way each individual story somehow connected to another one, as it really made me realise that things are going on all around us. People we don't know notice us, they think about us and maybe even cross our paths. Each person is dealing with their own life as best they can, and everyone, EVERYONE, has secrets. Whether it be something small or something completely life-changing, it's there and it's personal. Party uses this to its advantage, and though it does end up more dramatic than an everyday group of friends and acquaintances would usually be, the point of the story is still highly relevant.
This book shows how fragile high school relationships can be, and how even the biggest argument can be forgotten and forgiven. One night changes everything for eleven people just looking to party: they find parental acceptance, old and new friendships and, perhaps most importantly, they find each other. If Tom Leveen wrote a sequel to Party, I would read it right away. His candid storytelling and realistic situations make this book a must-read for teenagers navigating high school, and I only wish I could have read it then too.