Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Release Date: April 27, 2010
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Source: Received from publicist for honest review
My Review: Party was told through the eyes of eleven, diverse teenagers. Each individual told there story through their own chapter. After their narration was over, the only time they made an appearance is if they collided into another person's chapter. Tom does a great job of connecting all the characters at the house party in Santa Barbara. His writing ability was fresh and easy to follow. I admired the fact that each person had their own voice and didn't get lost in the shuffle. The teens behavior at the party was typical however, an unforeseen event rocked the house.
I was shocked at the treatment of one of the characters at the party. I was disgusted by a particular person who couldn't handle his emotions and drinking which caused him to react in a hateful way. There were two individuals I really liked though, Max and Ryan. Max was the quiet, sweet skateboarder. While, Ryan was the man whore of the group. Total opposites right? They both entertained me and I enjoyed there narration the most. Overall, a pretty good debut by Tom with a cohesive storyline.
Tom Leveen is the artistic director and a co-founder of Chyro Arts Venue, an all-ages nonprofit visual and performing venue in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has been involved in theater since 1988, directing over 30 plays. He frequently works with young adults at Chyro’s various events including theater, visual art exhibits, and especially the live music scene. Tom is an Arizona native, where he lives with his wife, Joy. Party is his first novel.
For more info on Tom visit his site(s):
1) When did you first consider yourself a writer? I’d have to say second grade. We had an assignment to write a story, which I did. My teacher asked me to revise it (hints of things to come!) and read it aloud to the first graders. When I did that, I was hooked. I was going to be a storyteller, one way or another. I had some dry spells here and there, but essentially I’ve been writing ever since.
2) What inspired you to write Party? Funny thing about Party -- it started with a single paragraph I dictated to my wife as we were leaving Santa Barbara while on our honeymoon. Over the next few weeks, I started taking bits of unfinished short stories (many of them horror genre!) and began piecing them together, seeing how the characters might overlap and interweave. Mostly I was curious if I could even pull it off! All I needed was a reason for these dissimilar characters to cross paths. School was an obvious choice--but a party . . . with all the drama and trauma that often goes along with high school parties (or did with mine, anyway), the story fell into shape with that as a backdrop. After a few drafts, I saw there were issues I wanted to explore, things like racism, faith, dealing with parents; things I’d seen or felt or experienced myself.
3) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Party? There was a character (and thus, a chapter) I ended up cutting during revision. I don’t want to give too much away about him because I might bring him into another story, but I will say his story would’ve overlapped Anthony and Azize’s. Other than that…well, I had to cut that first paragraph I dictated to my wife while I was driving, and that was a bummer - it was a really good paragraph! But otherwise, no. I think essentially the final product is the story it wanted to be.
*Spoiler Alert* -- There’s a sequence in Tommy’s chapter that I realize only now could be taken literally when it’s meant to be taken as tough guy talk -- when they sit around and discuss ways to “kill” another character. I wish I’d made it more clear that this was entirely talk, but some readers are taking it at face value, and that sort of bums me out. So, for posterity: They weren’t serious!
4) If you had to describe your book in one word, what would it be and why? Friendship. Because that’s ultimately what the story’s about, and what I hope it offers to readers. Friends can hear and say things relatives can’t or won’t. I hope Party is able to tell anyone who needs to hear it that there are people out there who understand. That’s what friends are for.
5) Do you have any other projects you're currently working on? Oh, yeah. Let’s see…one contemporary YA with a single first-person POV; one contemporary middle grade; one contemporary YA with multiple POVs like Party; a contemporary horror YA; and a couple of supernatural YA's still in the works.
6) How does it feel being a debut author? Awesome! Like so many writers, my goal was simply to get published, to have a publisher say, “Yeah, this is good enough to spend money on.” Validation, you know. When I got the call that Party sold to Random House, really I was too overwhelmed to celebrate. The other thing I feel about being a debut author is: it’s time to go to work. That’s something I think all writers pursuing publication need to remember. It is a job. It’s a *great* job, but a job.
7) What do you like to do when you're not writing? Go on dates with my wife, hang out with friends (some I’ve known since seventh grade), pretend to play guitar, and play a ridiculous amount of “Alchemy” online. Plus I’m a full time student, so homework takes up a lot of time.
8) What book are you currently reading? I usually have several books going at once in different parts of the house. Currently I’m reading 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke; Full Service by Will Weaver; Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears by Diane Glancy; Eaters of the Dead by Michael Cricton; and T*A*C*K Against Time by Marvin Miller and Nancy Robinson.
9) Do you have anything to say to all your readers? Yes: Say words! You have a voice, use it. Write it, sing it, say it, blog it, tweet it, paint it, rap it, knit it, dance it. Silence rarely cures, rarely heals. I don’t advocate mindless blathering, or saying the first thing that comes to mind when you’re angry or upset; but I do advocate speaking your mind honestly and kindly, and whatever your concerns are about yourself or the world around you -- tell us about it. The right word at the right time can change the world. I’ve seen it.
[Eleni: Great advice Tom!]
10) Tell us something about yourself that no one knows about. That’s almost impossible, since my wife and friends know pretty much everything; but if you mean something most readers wouldn’t know…I have a rock in one finger. Took a bad bail on my board in high school while downhilling, tore up my hand something fierce, and my friend Joel missed one rock while he was digging out the others with a knife. It’s still there. And I got the hill named after me: Get A Grip. Good times!