I’m helping celebrate the release day of Revenge of the Red Club by Kim Harrington today with an author Q&A, talking about this important and timely new middle grade book.
I started writing the book in late November 2016, so…yeah. I read a lot of middle grade and had been thinking about how rarely periods are mentioned in middle grade literature. And it has always bothered me how stigmatized periods are and how people with periods are sometimes shamed for it. (Case in point when a presidential candidate didn’t like a question during a debate and said the female reporter had “blood coming out of her wherever.”) So I needed to channel my feelings into work, and I also wanted to do my part to try to lift this stigma and help to create change. So REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB was born.
So many of the issues that get brought up in this book are infuriating and frustrating, and all too real. What do you hope young readers take away from reading this book?
That it doesn’t have to be this way. Things can change, they can get better. I would love to see real Red Clubs popping up with students supporting each other. It can happen!
I feel a lot of anger about the way girls and young women are being treated these days (being told what to dress, how to behave, all the ways they are “distracting” to guys, etc.) and I think it’s clear from this book, that you probably share a lot of those feelings. How did you channel your thoughts and frustrations into this story?
I had A LOT of feelings. So many news articles and real stories influenced this book. But creating this group of girls and helping them through their struggle helped ease my own frustrations. I grew to love these characters as if they were real. I really lost myself in writing this book. The drama the girls had with friendships, parents, first crushes, plus the pranks and humor. It helped get me through a frustrating time. As I hope it will help readers.
Okay, at the very heart of it, this book is about young girls supporting each other through their early days of menstruation — which, let’s face it, sucks pretty much forever. But it’s especially hard when you’re first going through it. (I will never forget the mortifying realization that I’d been walking around school all day with a giant stain on my butt, and NO ONE told me.) What is some advice or resources you’d offer to young girls trying to figure this stuff out on their own?
I would say, you don’t have to do it alone! Talk to your friends, talk to trusted adults. And as the stigma begins to shatter, there are more and more books coming out on the subject. Read, learn, joke, and laugh.
Anything else you want us to know about the book?
This book means the world to me. I love these characters. And I love the message. But, as with all midlist writers, the struggle is getting people to know it exists. Getting it into the hands of readers. So I want people to know that I am so immensely proud of this book and I appreciate anything done to get the word out. Thanks so much!
A tween reporter discovers an important and beloved club at school is being shut down—and uses the power of the pen to try and activate some much-needed social change in this period-positive and empowering middle grade novel about the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
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?