Monday, October 28, 2019

MMGM- Revenge of the Red Club

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

When you're young, you assume that some things will Always Be This Way. Black socks will ALWAYS look dorky with shorts. Shorts will never be as long as men's knees. Your knees will always bend easily. It will never be a better idea to order something online than it is to go to the store. And leggings will never, never be appropriate outside of the privacy of one's own home.

Lately, this has not been the case. Every day, something happens that I think is Deeply Wrong, and yet, everyone else thinks it's okay. I have become that old lady, standing on my lawn in my black, high necked , ankle length dress, waving my cane and telling people to get off my lawn.

I wanted to dislike Revenge of the Red Club, because I have never been a fan of discussing ANY bodily function in anything but hushed whispers with one's closet friends. I don't want to hear about your digestion, that weird popping thing in your back, or your pregnancy, other than there will be a baby I will soon need to avoid.

But then, I started to hear a plethora of ads for ED and certain medication on the radio. Every day. And I read that Viagra actually cures something else. Cramps. Which affect 90% of women at some point. And yet no one is discussing this. This is a real problem that affects the production levels of the US work force. It has economic repercussions, whereas ED is a complete and total economic nonissue. Also, no one is talking about what work time is lost to hot flashes.

So, you know what? Have at it. All of it. Everything my grandmother ever told me was rude and inappropriate. I will continue to wear pleated skirts and blouses with jackets, (And nylons! And a slip, if we're saying intimate things loud and proud.) and everyone else can run around naked, because that's what the world is coming to. I will be judging everyone SILENTLY.

As long as there are ads on the radio for ED, EVERY MIDDLE SCHOOL LIBRARY IN THE WORLD should be encouraged to buy this book.

If you've ever wondered why old people are crabby, now you know.

Harrington, Kim. Revenge of the Red Club
October 22nd 2019 by Aladdin
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Riley is an investigative reporter for her very realistic and small school newspaper. She loves to write and wants to make the world a better place by shining light on misinformation and injustice. She is also, along with her friend Cee, instrumental in keeping the Red Club going at her school. A group of girls who have reached puberty meet once a week in the library, and have an emergency locker with sweatpants and sanitary supplies that anyone who needs them can use. The girls ask each other questions and support each other, as well as any girl who might need help. Riley's mother and grandmother are much more traditional, so she doesn't get the information or support she needs at home. When Riley's mother comes home from a school committee meeting and tells her that there will be some changes at school, Riley is still surprised at the changes. The school dress code is now enforced, and leggings are no longer involved. The newspaper advisor, Ms. Bhatt, is replaced by Principal Pickford, all future issues are put on hold. Not only that, but the Red Club is forbidden to meet. Riley thinks her mother, or possibly the mother of a new girl, might be behind it, and she knows that Brody Scruggs' mother has complained that he can' concentrate because of the way the girls dress. Angered by these changes, Riley gathers her friends to effect some changes. They decide to shed light on the issues facing girls, and plan several protests. Girls carry tampons openly in the hallways on one day, talk openly about menstruation on another, and everyone is supposed to wear leggings on another day. Cole, another newspaper reporter, is very supportive of Riley and her endeavors, and offers to carry a tampon and even wears leggings, along with several other boys. There is also a large "art" installation of various pads that the girls put up in the gym, and even though it is taken down quickly, people hear about it. In the end, the girls' open insistence that their needs are heard and met gets a positive response, and the culture of the school slowly changes.
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.
Weaknesses: Miss Nancy should have been referred to by her last name, and I was a bit appalled at the waste of all the pads in the gym.
What I really think: 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. I will definitely purchase.


  1. I'm laughing out loud at your "crabby old person" remarks. I'm quite sure I'm older than you, and I can be curmudgeonly at times. But, honestly, Karen, you should be writing humorous MG novels!

  2. Couldn't help but chuckle as I read your review. We're probably the same generation and there were dress codes (no jeans/slacks). We were much more subdued in what we shared with a close friend -- but not the entire school. It certainly is a different time and so many things have changed. This may be a good book that will enourage students to support each other -- they don't always get it at home. This is a good book for school libraries.

  3. Sorry about stepping on your lawn, but I'm glad I did to hear about this book. Your comments were spot on and had me smiling (or was that a grimace?). I'll be tracking down a copy of this one. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  4. Oh. My. Goodness. I LOVED the prelude to your review! This is a book I HAVE to read. It wasn't until I got into my 30s that I realized the double-standard for who must keep things hush-hush. I am so interested in seeing how this is addressed in a middle grade book. Thank you for sharing this title!

  5. Oh, my, yes, I laughed and agree with you and the other commenters. This reminds of a quote from a Flanders and Swann TV comedy special from 50 years ago--"These days you can say things in public that you'd hesitate to say in private!"

  6. Personally, I would be ok with not discussing bodily functions or health at all. Unfortunately, my mom isn't on the same page with me and lives with me now.. I just don't want to talk about how I feel at 8am in the morning! And I personally feel that leggings should not be worn outside of the home, unless covered. I mean, you all do you, but I'm not showing off my thighs! I'll put a skirt over them if I go out.