Title: Party
Author: Tom Leveen
ISBN: 9780375864360
Pages: 228 pages
Publisher/Date: Random House, c2010.

This is dumb.
It’s like I’m already dead. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make any sound? If a girl doesn’t speak, if no one knows her name, does she really exist?
But I have to know. Does anyone know who I am anymore?
This becomes my new motivation: Go to the party. Walk around. See if anyone, just one person, says my name. Says “Hi!” Says “I had Spanish with you sophomore year.”
If no one does . . . then case closed. My high school career, my existence, will be proven invisible.
I force myself up the stairs built into the cliff face, and down Beachfront to the party. I regret my decision the moment I open the door. (12)

News has spread about the biggest party ever being hosted after the last day of the school year. Beckett is going to see if even one person knows she exists. Azize is intent on going to the party to make one new friend. Skateboarders Max and Brent are going because Max wants one last shot at finally talking to the girl he’s been pining over for the last three years and has never worked up the courage to approach. Morrigan snuck out of her house after getting in a fight with her parents and got a ride from her friend Ashley, who is looking out for Morrigan because she broke up with boyfriend Josh. Josh was in LOVE with Morrigan, but just wants to get over her FAST when she dumps him for not sleeping with her. His friends Tommy, Matt, Ryan, and Daniel drag him to the party after fantasizing about ways to kill Morrigan, “because that’s what friends do.” Finally, Anthony, former star football player, wants to put the losing season behind him, but family troubles overburden his alcohol addled brain. All these stories and people combine into one night of regrets and wishes and most people see things differently by the end.

Tom Leveen did a great job of moving the night along through the stories of these eleven teens. The pacing was great, and you really got all the points of views of the characters. This book is somewhat unique in that it could be seen as a collection of short stories, since each point of view is only about 20 pages long, but they all come together cohesively. The ending was shocking, but it still wrapped up all the loose ends. I can’ only imagine the difficulty of deciding who was going to tell what when in order for the ending to be as clean as it was.

While there was a lot going on, it was also only happening to several different people. So while a single story with the various events like the war oversees, racism, family illness and dynamics, sex/virginity, and underaged drinking might get bogged down, for this story it worked. We see that everyone has their own issues that they have to deal with, some more serious than others, and that maybe they aren’t visible to everyone. What’s also refreshing is that Leveen doesn’t get bogged down with clichés. Yes, there’s the teen boy who only wants to sleep around, but there’s also Josh who has decided to wait to have sex not for any strict adherence to religion, but for his own reasons. The characters get balanced out in the end, so the irresponsible get weighed next to the responsible and all in all I think there’s a little something for everyone. At slightly over 200 pages, it’s a slim book that makes an impact.

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