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Book review: Jon Hart’s “Party School” misses the mark

Spoiler alert: this review contains minor spoilers for the novel, “Party School.”
Jon Hart, The Sager Group.
The cover for Jon Hart’s novel, “Party School.”

With the college admissions season in full swing, it is no surprise that prospective college students will have to indulge themselves in literature of all kinds. However, the one book they may not be expecting to read during this time is Jon Hart’s “Party School.” 

Published by the Sager Group in 2022, “Party School” is a coming of age story laced with satire revolving around Dylan Mills, a college Freshman who attends a notorious party school to his chagrin. While experiencing the plights of post-secondary school, Dylan is also dealing with the recent break-up between him and his girlfriend Rosemary Silversmith, who attends an “it school.” 

Throughout the story, Dylan expresses his disdain for his college, North South, since it is not up to par with the “it schools”- which he makes a point not to name because there are too many to bore the audience with- many of his former classmates are attending. However, Dylan ultimately realizes that going to a regular college may not be such a bad thing. 

As a prospective college student anticipating my own Freshman year, I went into reading “Party School” with hopes that this would give me a new outlook on how to anticipate my college experience.

Instead, I left feeling unsure about what I read. 

Hart does his best to convey the message of doing the best with what you’re given during the novel, however that is largely overshadowed by Dylan’s pessimistic attitude towards North South and his continuous thoughts and longings for Rosemary. While I understand that being separated from those you love is difficult, it’s pathetic when the main message of the book is overshadowed by it. 

Dylan also tries his best to humor the audience in order to lighten his situation, however the jokes land at an awkward position, much like Dylan’s ankle when he falls from Rosemary’s window. The main point of most of his jokes revolved around North South’s marijuana intake, which becomes redundant as the story continues. Dylan even goes as far as referring to himself as the dope who goes to a school for dope. 

In lieu of numerous ganja gags, Hart somehow manages to make jokes about the Taliban during this novel, which come off as insensitive rather than satirical. Hart even goes as far as naming one of his characters The Taliban Kid- or TTK for short. TTK’s initial backstory is that both of his parents were in the Taliban, however that gets debunked later making the joke even worse. Hart also references this character’s other nickname as “Osama Ski Laden,” presumably because of the way this character kills the slopes. While I understand that both of these are jokes, they both felt increasingly uncomfortable and unnecessary considering the actual point of the novel. 

Aside from that, the main message Hart attempts to portray entails “anti school shaming,” which feels like a subplot when considering the amount of Dylan and Rosemary content. I quite like the message Hart aims to portray- be proud of where you are regardless of the reputation. However, Hart often contradicts this message by simultaneously shaming both “it” and “not it” schools along with their respective students.

Hart’s message could have been enhanced and more profound if Hart sidelined the more romantic elements of his book. Yes, the school shaming does intertwine within Dylan and Rosemary’s relationship thus making the relationship important, but the message could have been clearer had the novel’s inherent focus been on Hart’s main message. 

Hart does succeed at portraying the overall message, since Dylan does eventually accept his fate and learns to love North South, however he leaves the audience with an odder message, or me at least: “Don’t worry about going to a less than ideal school because the ‘it’ school people are all phonies anyway.”

Overall, I was not the biggest fan of “Party School,” however that does not mean that others won’t enjoy it. I would not recommend this book to every incoming college student, however if you enjoy marijuana jokes and delusional ex-boyfriends, I would say differently. 

For those interested, “Party School” is available on Amazon in both regular and e-book versions.

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About the Contributor
SOFIA ORLANDO, Editor in Chief
Sofia Orlando is a senior at GHS and is Editor in Chief for The Gillnetter. She is a member of the National Honors Society (NHS) and has won awards for her accomplishments regarding world history and journalism. In her free time, Sofia can be found baking, hanging out with friends and family, walking around town, or watching any of her favorite movies. She also has a fraternal twin sister! You can contact her with any questions or story ideas at: [email protected]

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