Even though nearly every scene in The Breakfast Club takes place in the Shermer High School library, Claire, Andrew, Allison, Brian, and Bender don't ever try to pass the time with a book. (Okay, Bender does pick up a book of Molet, immediately starts ripping it into pieces, and loses more than a few bad boy heartthrob points with bookworms everywhere.) But to be fair, the kids have a lot on their mind, like how to keep assistant principal Vernon out of their hair, and who among them is still a virgin.
And although The Breakfast Club is starting to show its age after 30 years (like all of their very '80s wardrobe stylings or when Claire has to explain what sushi is), there are still a lot of lessons to be gleaned, like that people are always worth a second look and you never want to become like your parents. (And personally, Claire gave me my best wedding reception dance move ever.)
But just in case you ever end up in Saturday detention for pulling a fire alarm or skipping class to go shopping and you aren't able to bond with your fellow inmates, here are a few Breakfast Club-inspired reads to help detention go by faster.
Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
Those of us who related a little too strongly to Brian's mom telling him to find a way to study in Saturday detention will find a kindred spirit in Kate Malone, the protagonist of Catalyst . Her home life is, as Allison would say, "deeply unsatisfying," but Kate has an escape plan: get accepted into MIT. This means straight-As and all the pressures that come with it, but Kate's perfect plan goes out the window when she receives a rejection letter and, thanks to her reverend father, is forced to share her bedroom with a hostile classmate whose house has burned down. Although Kate doesn't bring a flare gun to school like Brian does, they both carry the burdens of being honor-students and having to figure out what to do now. (P.S. Watch for a cameo from Melinda, who you might remember from a little book called Speak.)
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Summer camp is a little bit like detention, right? A bunch of kids who might never have met, let alone talked to one another, are randomly thrown together and form a tight bond that lasts forever. All right, so we don't know if the kids from The Breakfast Club make it past Monday, but a small part of me would like to think so, because that's exactly what happens in Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings . This book explores the relationships that form one summer at camp between Jules and her friends, and how those relationships twist and turn as they grow up.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
If you're anything like me, you loved the goodbye kisses between Andrew and Allison, and Bender and Claire, but you also wanted to know: what happens next? Can people who are that different ever work out? This is the story of two people who try, but, as you might be able to tell from the title, there's not a happy ending. Artsy Min is giving her jock ex-boyfriend Ed a letter and a box filled with stuff, explaining why they broke up. Told alongside gorgeous illustrations by Maira Kalman, this is one high school romance possibility the Breakfast Club kids might have faced once the weekend was over.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This is one of those YA classics that, if you haven't read it yet, you need to drop what you're doing and get yourself to the bookstore, stat. In S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders , you're either a soc or a greaser, high-class or low-class. Ponyboy is a greaser, who's making his way through the world despite the odds stacked against him, but things take a turn for the worse when one of his friends kills a soc. The Outsiders is a book Bender would have probably read in class... if he ever went to class. And while being a "criminal" at Shermer High School is a little different than being a greaser, The Outsiders made readers take a second look at kids from the wrong side of the tracks, just like The Breakfast Club did.
If there's one thing the kids in The Breakfast Club talk about, it's virginity. Allison drops a major truth bomb at one point about the catch-22 of girls and sex, saying, "If you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have, you're a slut. It's a trap." Jessica Valenti's book, The Purity Myth , is all about the trap girls find themselves in when it comes to the pressures of staying chaste. Whether it's contemporary abstinence-only education or the history of "purity," Valenti leaves no stone unturned in her well-researched critique. It's as though Allison wrote it herself.
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
James Sveck doesn't want to grow up, which means he definitely doesn't want to go to college in the fall. He would much rather buy a house in a small town in the Midwest, and spends his summer daydreaming about it, while catfishing one of his coworkers and avoiding thinking about his last school trip to Washington D.C. If you've ever been an outsider or felt isolated from the people around you, James, like Allison, will help you feel a little less alone. (James would have definitely gone to Saturday detention for lack of anything better to do.)
Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
When $10,000 goes missing at the GoodFoods Market, Chloe and her fellow teen coworkers are accused of stealing it, and they aren't allowed to leave the grocery store break room until the true culprit is discovered. If your favorite part of The Breakfast Club was the premise (a group of kids stuck together and form unlikely friendships), then this is the next book you should pull off the library shelves. (Just don't pull a Bender and start ripping pages out of it. Not cool.)
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Like Andrew the jock, Ezra Faulker seems to have it all: varsity tennis captain, homecoming king, and a gorgeous girlfriend, but one car accident changes everything for Ezra. He loses his jock status now that he can no longer play tennis, and finds himself moving in different social circles at school. In The Breakfast Club, Andrew says he wishes his knee would give out, so that he wouldn't have to wrestle anymore. If you've ever wondered what might have happened to Andrew if his wish ever came true, The Beginning of Everything could be your answer.
The Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan
What would you do when you found out your parents are super villains who want to take over the world? That's exactly what happens to Nico, Chase, Karolina, Gertrude, Molly, and Alex, and life is never the same again. If you thought The Breakfast Club was great, but could have been even better if Bender could cast magic spells or Claire had super strength, then this is the series for you. (Also, is it just me or does Vernon seem just dastardly enough to be a super villain himself?)
Image: Universal Pictures