The Breakfast Club is one of my all-time favorite movies. It has everything you could possibly ask for: a quirky band of misfits, youthful rebellion, love that crosses social groups, and a great feel-good ending. For anyone who has ever felt like an outcast, or, conversely, anyone who has ever felt stuck in the social role they think they’re supposed to enjoy, The Breakfast Club reminds you it’s okay to be a little different. It’s okay to hang out with people who may not fit the mold of who you think you’re supposed to like. And, of course, it’s okay to stage a big group dance scene in the library (maybe the most important lesson the movie taught me).
While The Breakfast Club is an 80s classics, its themes span decades: teen angst, star-crossed love, an inability to fit in, and the search for identity were its building blocks, and these YA novels are cut from the same cloth. Though, sadly, I haven’t been able to find another good library dance scene yet.
Fans of the Impossible Life, by Kate Scelsa
Misfits who can’t find acceptance elsewhere band together to survive high school. Sound familiar? Mira is trying to prove to her parents that she can move past the depression that put her in the hospital. Sebby is Mira’s gay best friend, whose outward confidence masks the troubles he faces at his foster home. And Jeremy is the art nerd who meets and falls in love with both of them. They’re like their own mini Breakfast Club!
Guy in Real Life, by Steve Brezenoff
The Breakfast Club gives us TWO unlikely pairings: the Jock and the Basket Case, and the Princess and the Criminal. In this novel, we get a love story between a goth who plays MMOs and a hippie who likes RPGs. Lesh and Svetlana meet by accident when they crash into each other (literally) in the middle of the night. They have absolutely nothing in common, or so they think. And yet they can’t help reaching out to each other, even though they don’t seem to fit into each other’s lives. As The Breakfast Club taught us, sometimes the people we need in our lives are the ones we least expect to find there.
Summer on the Short Bus, by Bethany Crandell
A spoiled princess of a teenager is sent to hang out with a bunch of kids who are different from her as punishment for being so terrible and selfish. So basically, it stars Claire, Molly Ringwald’s character. Cricket Montgomery’s father has decided she’s had enough pampering and sends her to work as a counselor at a camp for disabled teens. Needless to say, Cricket does not have the caring, compassionate soul needed for this job. The more time she spends with the campers and fellow counselors, however, the more she begins to see life’s not just about expensive things.
The Realm of Possibility, by David Levithan
This one’s a little different from the others on this list, but in practice it does exactly what The Breakfast Club set out to do: puts the voices of a bunch of people who wouldn’t necessarily have contact with each other otherwise into conversation. Written in verse, the book gives chapters to 20 different students in the same high school who all have their own story to tell. In turn heartbreaking and hilarious, this is a novel version of the famous Breakfast Club letter, in which five very different voices come together to tell a story.
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, by Kate Hattemer
What list of The Breakfast Club–inspired books would be complete without a story of good old teenage rebellion? Ethan and his friends attend a prestigious art school that’s the subject of a documentary called For Art’s Sake. Everyone loves the show, except for them. They write a long poem railing against it and give it out to all of the students…but when one of their own turns traitor and appears on the show, poetry just isn’t enough. Ethan and the others are determined to take back their school once and for all.