Image Courtesy of The Sager Group
By Angela Hickey
Does the school make the man or is it the other way around? The answer is discussed in Jon Hart’s debut novel, Party School, a coming-of-age teen romance that teaches its readers that “it’s not which college you attend. It’s what you make of it.”
The story follows high school senior, glee club dropout, and fifth-string hockey goalie, Dylan Mills. He’s a likable underachiever set to attend Party School, a small-town college notorious for raucous celebration. However, there’s one catch…Dylan doesn’t party.
His main focus is and always has been his high-school sweetheart, Rosemary Silversmith, who is seemingly everything that Dylan isn’t. Intelligent, incredible, and well-loved, Rosemary is seemingly the only right thing Dylan has ever done in his life.
However, Rosemary isn’t going to Party School, frankly she’s embarrassed by it, distancing herself from Dylan and their relationship in the process and Dylan finds himself doing things he’d never even dreamed of. But a cheating scandal sends Rosemary running back to Dylan’s arms for a second chance.
Now a changed man, he isn’t so sure he wants her back…
This isn’t Hart’s first publication, that title belongs to his first book, Man versus Ball (2013), a non-fiction tale depicting his adventures around the country as he undertakes new missions, often with unexpected results. His work has also been featured in several publications, including The New York Times. But Party School is his first dip into the pool of fiction, and he does it rather successfully.
Hart has created a pool of lovable, witty, and charming characters who keep readers emotionally invested in their stories whilst they help Dylan on his journey to find out just who exactly he is, and teaching him that the life he knew isn’t all that’s out there.
Balancing the fear of growing up with the nostalgia of your days of innocence, Hart weaves a heartwarming tale of moving past the mold that others have designed for you and creates a beautiful and emotional character out of Dylan who, despite the quick read, the audience connects with on a deep personal level, mostly thanks to Hart’s well orchestrated balance of internal monologue and dialogue.
A tale about growing up, moving on, and making the most of a perceived bad situation, Party School has all the makings of a wonderful coming-of-age tale that encourages self-discovery and teaches you not to judge a book by its cover.