Happy Thursday, part 2!
We're also reviewing The Revenge Playbook today, one of my favorite reads of the summer.
Rachael Allen has written both a classic tale of female friendship, but also a story about girls who are willing to challenge their community for both themselves and the generations of girls to come.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 16th 2015 by HarperTeen
Format read: ARC via publisher
Both a heartwarming tale of four true friends, and a parable on refusing to accept the status quo, this is a book that will appeal to readers everywhere.
Don’t get mad, get even!
In the small town of Ranburne, high school football rules and the players are treated like kings. How they treat the girls they go to school with? That’s a completely different story. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana each have their own reason for wanting to teach the team a lesson—but it’s only when circumstances bring them together that they come up with the plan to steal the one thing the boys hold sacred. All they have to do is beat them at their own game.
Brimming with sharp observations and pitch-perfect teen voices, fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp tale—by the author of 17 First Kisses—about the unexpected roads that can lead you to finding yourself.
Which is why, I was eager to read The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen. Allen impressed me with both the fun and profundity of her debut 17 First Kisses, and I had no doubt that she’d be able to dissect gender politics in her sophomore book.
Allen introduces us to four different girls: Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana, all of whom come from different walks of life in the small town of Ranburne. However, they all have one thing in common: they’d like to teach the local football team a lesson.
Told through parallel storylines of both flashbacks and a present-day scavenger hunt with the girls racing to get a football sacred to the team, Allen deftly begins by exploring how each girl ended up wanting to get revenge on the team. Though the circumstances vary, all four have something in common: their gender has led to be considered second-class citizens, in a town that is dominated by the male football team.
Consequently, as Allen walks Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane and Ana through finding each other, and eventually creating the plan that will help them take down the team, readers will likely be both bemused and empowered by the ability of the quartet to turn gender politics on its head. We see them use their feminism to empower themselves, but also gaining what they need, as their revenge plans continue - fully proving that feminism is a powerful tool, and should not be understimated in any circumstance.
But as the four girls find the strength in themselves to take on the team, Allen also gently reminds that not everyone is cut from the same cloth. The girls meet young men who are genuinely good hearted and what the girls need; a nice reminder that there will always be those who are strong enough to not give into the pressures of a group.
At the end of the day, The Revenge Playbook isn't so much a book about revenge, but more a book about empowerment, and honoring/proving what it means to take a stand against the crowd. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane and Ana set examples for their classmtes and the reader, which can both inspire while entertaining.
Of special note for parents/educators: (minor spoilers ahead) Allen touches upon several instances of tough situations in the book, including potential date rape.
While Allen doesn’t hesitate to show the sheer emotional devastation involved in such events, she also makes the thoughtful choice on focusing on helping a person can come to terms with said events, and learning personal empowerment to take back their future. The experiences of the character can likely encourage some substantial dialogue with younger readers.
On a greater level, this is a story about a group of young women, who refuse to accept the status quo. They recognize the inherent problems associated with the community that they live in. But rather than complain and/or just accept it for what it is, they find a rather ingenious way of taking on the community, and showing once and for all, they have a stake in their community too.
I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. Highly recommend for all readers, of all ages.