Revenge of the Red Club
October 22, 2019
Riley Dunne loves being a member of the Red Club. It’s more than a group of girls supporting each other through Aunt Flo’s ups and downs; it’s a Hawking Middle School tradition. The club’s secret locker has an emergency stash of supplies, and the girls are always willing to lend an ear, a shoulder, or an old pair of sweatpants.
But when the school administration shuts the Red Club down because of complaints, the girls are stunned. Who would do that to them? The girls’ shock quickly turns into anger, and then they decide to get even.
But wallpapering the gym with maxi pads and making tampon crafts in art class won’t bring their club back. Only Riley can do that. Using the skills she has cultivated as her school paper’s top investigative reporter (okay, only investigative reporter), she digs for the truth about who shut the club down and why. All the while dealing with friendship drama, a new and ridiculous dress code, and a support group that is now more focused on fighting with each other than fighting back.
Can she save the Red Club before this rebellion turns into a full-scale war?
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Strengths: Riley's actions were all realistic, reasonable, and well though out. Harrington clearly investigated how schools work in order to write this book. While my school no longer feels we can address any clothing choices, I know that many schools do have stringent requirements about short length, strap width, etc., and they are almost exclusively aimed at what girls wear. The characters are especially well-drawn; they are multidimensional and well meaning, even if Riley disagrees with them, and there are some fun twists with Principal Pickford and the formal, white haired Miss Nancy. Riley's relationship with Cole was especially charming, and I loved that she was willing to pass on hanging out with him at the dance in order to support a girl who was dress coded at the dance... wearing the same dress Riley was wearing, but "filling it out" differently. It was good that Riley had Ms. Bhatt and Cee's mother to support her in ways her own mother didn't. This moves along quite briskly and doesn't let the political message slow down the story.
While I found this a little uncomfortable, and would have been mortified by it as a middle school student, but it was ultimately compelling. If students can read it, perhaps they will live differently and be better able to support others than I am. Students today are much more open about all manner of topics. There are a growing number of books out there that frankly address menstruation, such as Williams' graphic novel Go With the Flow and the nonfiction book by Stynes, Welcome to Your Period, and Revenge of the Red Club is a solid middle grade story of empowerment and awareness.
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