Six 14-year-old boys, all classmates, must sit tight in their school bathroom while they wait out a storm warning, a forced interaction that causes the barriers between them to fall.
Although there isn’t much story, it’s told twice, once as a novella, the second time as a play. The plot is a kind of stripped-down, reasonably witty, all-male middle school version of The Breakfast Club, though it lacks that property’s heart and gravitas. Readers will both like and recognize the diverse group of characters, such as the brainiac or the hostile, seemingly dumb one, and the jokes mostly land. But for boys of that age, these characters are remarkably live-and-let-live, with no harsh teasing of the anxious new kid with the stuffed cat, for example. This goodwill creates minor rather than major tension between them, which, coupled with the lack of action, makes the novella feel rather sluggish. It’s better as a play, partially because it’s cut to its essentials, partially because the story’s shape, simple set, and group of individuals artificially stuck together as interior revelations play out lends itself to the form. Drama teachers may find it a useful demonstration of how to turn prose into dramatic writing.
A slow, slight story enlivened by likable characters and a nice dose of humor. Twice. (Fiction/drama. 9-13)