The Street Party by Claire Seeber (2021) Review

When one night’s event can affect the lives of three families.

Why I picked up the book:

The neighbourhood of Northgate Square was not ready for Nella. When Nella and Marcus move into the community, she quickly made herself the queen bee. And what better way to exercise her influence than to take over the planning and execution of a neighborhood street party to celebrate summer and raise funds for a charity?

What neither Nella nor our other two protagonists, Melissa and Ruby, anticipated was that something will happen and affect all of their lives before the end of that night. Someone is lying, but who?

The book through my criteria lens:

If the first half of The Street Party had been shorter or faster, I would have enjoyed it more. Although my feelings for the book’s beginning are lukewarm, and I was slightly lost following the many characters, Seeber backed up that choice in the second half. The slow start was vital because it allowed us to really know all the characters well by the party’s time and understand their actions after the book’s important event. To make it clear, I can not fault the second half of the book; it delivered everything I want in a book: terrific characters, consistent arcs, compelling prose, and a thought-provoking ending.

My personal feelings:

As I mentioned, The Street Party was too slow for me in the beginning. I had a hard time reading it until the party happened, but then it was like a curtain was lifted and the angels were singing. What happened in the second half of the book was nothing short of magic!

I literally could not put it down, and I fell in love with so many characters! I particularly love and can relate to Ruby – her parenting is fantastic, and she is the definition of a strong woman. I want to be Ruby when I grow up or have her as my best friend! I don’t want to spoil the book, but there’s this one particular character’s arc that got my heartstrings. To mention their name might be considered spoilers; I apologize if I am being vague – but it’s for your reading pleasure!

One thing Seeber did really well was developing the characters and making readers understand their motivation. It was hard not to empathize with all the characters, even those whose actions are dubious or morally gray. I mean, all except for Rebekah – she was something else! Bahahaha.

The Street Party is deliciously British. I was there for all the references and slang. When a character gives the “V” as another character walks away, this one scene got me cheering.

Ultimately, in my opinion, The Street Party is a book about friendship, sisterhood, and how we never know what happens behind someone else’s closed doors. Griffin was terrific at exposing how we all can project a different image to others to protect parts of their lives they want to keep secret. The friendship between Melissa and Ruby was beautifully imperfect and heartwarmingly deep. The fact that they both are at the center of the conflict was a genius choice. It was a privilege to watch their bond and how they deal with the aftermath of what happened. I also felt that the way mother-child relationships were portrait was quite remarkable. You might disagree with the parenting style of some characters, and bad choices were made, but one thing all the women have in common was that they all did what they felt was best for their children.

The neighbourhood of Northgate Square was brilliantly used as a microcosm of societal injustices, overt racism, elitism, and interconnectedness. One’s action will impact more lives than one’s own -always. The Street Party was a raw expose of many wrong things in our society and how having someone who supports us can be the determinant in overcoming adversity.

Even though I didn’t enjoy the beginning and still feel it could have been shorter, I understand it was essential to the characters’ development. The second half more than made up for it, though. It was strong, impactful, and authentic. I’m always seeking books with a message of women empowering other women, and Seeber gifted us with notable examples of that.

Enjoyability     6

Characters      8

Ambience       10

Fairness          10

Plot             10     

Execution        6

My total rating: 4.16


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