February 18, 2016

Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah - Erin Jade Lange

Author: Erin Jade Lange
Pages: 320
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads rating: 
About: "The Breakfast Club" gets a modern, high-stakes reboot in this story of four very different teens and a night that changes them forever. 

The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother.The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college. The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight. 
When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive. 

I think I stopped reading the description for this one after the breakdown of the labels, because all I knew before I read it was that it was compared to The Breakfast Club.  I was confused by this almost immediately because the stakes in that movie are not high.  Like, yeah, maybe their lives are forever changed by that one Saturday detention.  However, The Breakfast Club doesn’t end in death (that we know of anyway) and it doesn’t end with Mr. Vernon terrorizing the kids and forcing them to run for their lives.
Sam, Andi, York, and Boston – these kids think they stole a cop car, they think they killed a cop, they took a long look at what their choices were and STILL drove this car over an hour away.  These kids made me so nervous.  You know who never did that to me?  The Breakfast Club. 
Once they got to the cabin I started to feel the comparison much more.  The cabin is definitely their Saturday detention moment.  The archetypes started emerging as you learned more about these characters and they learned more about each other.   It wasn’t as totally off base as I initially thought.
I really liked Sam’s backstory.  So often when a parent is into drugs in YA it is the main focus of the story.  ‘My mom is addicted to meth and we live in a trailer and I take care of my siblings because no one else will.’  That’s not Sam.  Sam’s mom is an addict, but she was also a country musician who had a modicum of success in Nashville.  She’s been in and out of jail for Sam’s whole life.  She’s made some bad decisions and that’s resulted in some really bad shit for Sam, but Sam also knows that her mom loves her and is trying.  It was a refreshing twist on the addict parent storyline.
Lange’s writing really shines.  I loved how the reveals happened.  She makes you believe you have a good grip on the story, but then flips everything on its head a little bit.  My favorite moment, and I think this book’s true Breakfast Club moment, its Judd Nelson throwing his fist in the air if you will, comes towards the end of the book when the three kids are out in the parking lot.  I don’t want to say more because it would be spoiling a whole lot, but it’s such a great parallel.

Although I was skeptical at first, this book really does earn its Breakfast Club comparison.  The world sees these kids as it wants to, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions: a rebel, a bully, a geek, and a pariah.  But they are so much more than that.  And, after a nightmare 24 hours, now they know it too.

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