Not Just Dudes in Tights: Mean Girls Club

by Marina Barakatt
published in Reading

Do I have a recommendation for you today, folks! If you’ve been looking for a violent, vulgar, and oh-so-satisfying story of a group of badass broads and revenge against the men who wronged them, do I have the book for you! Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn, written by Ryan Heshka and released in 2018, was exactly the catharsis I needed when I picked it up a few years ago, and has been the catharsis I needed every time I’ve re-read it since. These women are confident, great at fighting, and, as the name suggests, oh so mean.

Setting the Scene

The book is set in the 1950s with an art style to match. The girls settle their scores in impossibly high heels and impossibly tight skirts – normally I’m the first to be annoyed when an action heroine is forced to run around in impractical clothes, but these women seem like they’re making a real stylistic choice, and I respect it.

They drink liquor out of bottles with skulls and crossbones on the label, they brandish clubs and old-fashioned rifles, and their dialogue is full of mid-century insults and obscenity. Their names are Sweets, Wanda, Wendy, Pinky, Blackie, and McQualude. They’ve got tattoos, weapons, and perfect pincurls. They know who they are and what they need to do to live in a world determined to keep them down.

The Story So Far…

The plot of this stand-alone book is pretty straightforward: after the police attack their clubhouse, the Mean Girls Club decides it’s time for action and hijacks the radio to let the townspeople know that the Short Wave New Wave Crime Wave (SWNWCW) is on, and they need recruits.

Antagonists of the book include the corrupt, fat cat mayor and his police lackeys as well as the leaders of the church-run orphanage, who are getting girls ready for a lifetime of subservience. 

The main character arc follows Roxy, a down-on-her-luck mechanic taking care of her sick grandfather. In need of money, she agrees to infiltrate the Mean Girls Club on orders from the Mayor. You can probably guess where the story goes from there, but the journey is just as enjoyable when you know the destination. We also get to learn the girls’ backstories and how each of them was found, saved, and cared for by another member of the group.

An Eye for Detail

The more time you spend with the pages, the more you see. The drawings are filled with minimalist color – just white and shades of black and pink – which draws the eye to the details. 

As you would expect in a 50s romp, not much is subtle: the bad guy is so evil that he keeps hungry pigs (guess how that turns out for him in the end). People’s faces turn bright pink when they get bad news. Thought bubbles of dollar signs pop up when discussing money. In response to the SWNWCW, the Mayor establishes ROT: Reclaim Our Town, and posters in support of this effort include “Wives not Knives,” and “Keen Girls Club.” 

In Conclusion

This book is nothing but fun, and doesn’t take itself too seriously: the girls all look like pinups, and even when one turns into a giant monster, she still looks great. There’s not a lot of body diversity or diversity of any other sort, and the point of view is not interested in a more nuanced discussion about sexism or gender roles. But sometimes you don’t want that. Sometimes, you’re angry at the world. You’re angry at the people who are supposed to protect the interests of women, but you can’t go smash up city hall because you have to go to work tomorrow so you can pay rent. When the anger gets to be too much, turn to the Mean Girls Club. They’ve got your back.

Marina is a West Coast native living in Washington, DC. She loves writing anything, from sci-fi to creative non-fiction to romance, often drawing inspiration from the frequent travel required by her day job. Her work has appeared in such literary magazines as DistrictLit and Corner Bar Magazine. When she’s not writing, you can find her hosting bar trivia, baking something involving peaches, or bothering her extremely patient dog, Daisy. You can read more of her work on her website and find pictures of Daisy on her Twitter.

Enjoyed this article?