From award-winning author Beth Vrabel comes a new middle-grade Breakfast Club drama set in a old folks’ home. On the last day of middle school, five kids who couldn’t be more different commit separate pranks, each sure they won’t be caught and they can’t get in trouble. They’re wrong. As punishment, they each have to volunteer one beautiful summer day-the last one before school-at Northbrook Retirement and Assisted Living Home, where they’ll push creamed carrots into toothless mouths, perform the world’s most pathetic skit in front of residents who won’t remember it anyway, hold gnarled hands of peach fuzzed old ladies who relentlessly push hard candies, and somehow forge a bond with each other that has nothing to do with what they’ve done and everything to do with who they’re becoming. All the action takes place in the course of this one day, with each chapter one hour of that day, as the five kids reveal what they’ve done, why they did it, and what they’re going to do now.
I am the author of the Cybils’-nominated Caleb and Kit, ILA award-winning A Blind Guide to Stinkville, JLG-selection A Blind Guide to Normal, The Reckless Club, and the Pack of Dorks series. I’ve received starred and positive trade reviews across the board for my novels and am active in school and library visits around the country.
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. In fourth grade, I won a short-story contest and promptly decided writing was what I was going to do with my life. Although my other plans—becoming a wolf biologist, a Yellowstone National Park ranger, and a professional roller skater—didn’t come to fruition, I stuck with the writing. I can’t clap to the beat nor be trusted around Nutella.
Where did you originally get the idea for The Reckless Club?
As a child of the eighties, I’ve watched copious amounts of “The Breakfast Club” movie. I loved the idea that five kids, all wildly different than each other, could spend just a few hours together and realize they are so much more than the labels they’ve been assigned. Instead of serving detention in a school library, “The Reckless Club” characters are forced to spend the day volunteering in a nursing home, discovering connections to each other and their parallel in the home’s community.
What part of creating The Reckless Club did you most enjoy?
I pushed myself to really embrace the out-of-comfort-zone experience that my characters go through in the book. So instead of my usual first person, past tense approach, “The Reckless Club” is told in third person, present tense as the day unfolds.
What would you say is the primary message of this book?
We all have so much more in common than what separates us.