Using quizzes, short stories, “choose your own” adventures, and pretend ads, Pity Party discusses mental illness in children through a very Black Mirror– or Goosebumps-style lens. This middle grade book wasn’t perfect for me, and I question the kid appeal, and yet it did end up being a 5 star read…


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The summary, from Amazon:

Discover an “absurd, funny, and thought-provoking” book perfect for “anyone who has ever felt socially awkward or inadequate” (Louis Sachar, author of Holes and the Wayside School series).
Dear weird toes, crooked nose, stressed out, left out, freaked out

Dear missing parts, broken hearts, picked-on, passed up, misunderstood,

Dear everyone, you are cordially invited, come as you are, this party’s for you

Welcome to Pity Party, where the social anxieties that plague us all are twisted into funny, deeply resonant, and ultimately reassuring psychological thrills.

There’s a story about a mood ring that tells the absolute truth. One about social media followers who literally follow you around. And one about a kid whose wish for a new, improved self is answered when a mysterious box arrives in the mail. There’s also a personality test, a fortune teller, a letter from the Department of Insecurity, and an interactive Choose Your Own Catastrophe.

Come to the party for a grab bag of delightfully dark stories that ultimately offers a life-affirming reminder that there is hope and humor to be found amid our misery.

Buy Pity Party on Amazon.

Pity Party uses dark humor, tall tales, and a touch or horror to discuss mental illness, especially anxiety, in children. Through various short stories and unique takes like personality quizzes, Kathleen Lane explores what it’s like for a child to feel awkward and inadequate.

I guess in retrospect this book doesn’t stick out to me too much, but during reading it, I had a ton of fun. I related to so many of the narrators, and I enjoyed the creepier, Goosebumps-esque stories where bullies became as ugly as their insides and there were no heroes. Not all of the stories are linear, and some are rather abstract. I’m not sure kid me would’ve really understood how to read this book.

Despite all that, I think Pity Party is a unique and thought-provoking read. I enjoyed it so much that I had to give it 5 stars – perhaps a 4.5 rounded up, but I deal in Goodreads terms.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Pity PartyPity Party by Kathleen Lane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure this has middle grade kid appeal, but I loved this zine-style book! Very accurate representation of mental illness, largely anxiety, in children. Black Mirror & Goosebumps vibes.

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Book Club Questions

  1. What was your favorite part or story of this book? Why?
  2. Are the quizzes accurate ways to determine personality or just for fun? What do you think about the results?
  3. Who was the most relatable character for you in this book?

Interested? Buy Pity Party.
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