Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Breakfast Club Week: The Basket Case

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of this classic teen movie, each day we'll recommend books for one of the members of that fateful Saturday morning detention....

Today, Rachel L gives us some selections for Allison Reynolds

“What do they do to you?”

“They ignore me.”

Allison Reynolds, AKA “The Basket-Case”, is the quirky, quiet girl who does inexplicable things like stealing people’s wallets then returning them untouched, or making up stories about the number of guys she’s dated then immediately admitting that they’re just stories. She can casually draw a gorgeous pen and ink picture, then shake her dandruff on it. She is in one breath insulting, dismissive, judgmental, and in the next, endearing, vulnerable, sweet. She’s an enigma, someone who is much more than meets the eye.

I had a hard time coming up with a book that captures this idea of The Basket-Case, because, despite the nickname, Allison isn’t crazy. She uses her quirkiness as both a defense and a weapon: she avoids rejection by making herself so strange as to be unapproachable. She’s taken control of how she’s treated by others by making herself untouchable.

What character, in the vastness of young adult literature, has created a persona to proactively fashion a public image of herself? Who uses this persona as both a shield and a sword? The answer, ladies and gentlemen, is this: Margo Roth Spiegelman of John Green’s Paper Towns (see our posts).

The legend of Margo Roth Spiegelman as a popular girl, master prankster, sometimes-runaway, and all-around charismatic leader has spread far and wide in the town of Jefferson Park, Florida. Quentin, an old childhood friend, finds out one night--when Margo enlists him in a series of revenge pranks--that there is more to Margo than meets the eye. He discovers instead of a fun-loving, carefree girl who loves a few adventures, a girl so frightened of living an empty shell of a life--a paper life--that she has become a skilled manipulator to give herself the sense that she is something more.

No, Margo isn’t stereotypically “weird” in the way that Allison Reynolds from The Breakfast Club is. But neither is the real Allison Reynolds. And though the masks that Allison and Margo wear take different forms, they serve the same purpose to protect the real person who lives beneath.​

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