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Saturday, January 4, 2020

Book Review: Go with the Flow by Lily Williams, Karen Schneemann

Sasha is starting at a new high school. On the first day she managed to annoy some of the older, more popular girls, but she also makes a new friend. A day or two later, Sasha experiences every teen's worst nightmare--while wearing white jeans, she gets her period for the first time, which is apparent to all. The popular girl makes fun of her, while her new friends rescue her. Her new friends, Brit, Christine, and Abby, now have a friend for life.

As the school year goes on, the teasing around Sasha dies down. Brit experiences terrible, debilitating pain monthly, Christine seems to be having more than usual feelings for Abby, and Abby becomes increasingly incensed about the situation at their school surrounding periods. She seems the football team just got new uniforms after only two years, and yet the women's bathrooms are always out of pads and tampons. The principal claims they can't have them due to budget issues--which is crazy not only because the new uniforms surely cost money, but the students have to pay for the pads and tampons, so why does that cost the school anything at all?

She starts a blog and does an art project and tries to get her friends as upset as she is, but nothing she tries is getting any traction. She blows up and defaces the school and drags her friends into it which they don't appreciate. In her frustration, a blog post she writes finally gains ground.

I really hope this is going to be a series! It seems there is plenty still left to do. Notably, as Abby realizes, fixing this problem at their school only fixes it for a small--and somewhat privileged--population of girls, and it needs to be addressed on a larger scale. Brit's health issues need to be resolved (fingers crossed--most women with endometriosis aren't even diagnosed for more than 10 years.) And Christine, who is normally the goofball of the group, looks to be one with some bigger concerns coming up (is she gay? Do her friends know that? In particular, is her friend Abby receptive to her interest? Could this ruin their friendship?)

This is a great story hitting a topic that has been getting much more notice the last few year, particularly among the younger set. But for those not on the frontlines of period activism, there is still a lot of shame and embarrassment and fear surrounding menstruation, and the best way to tackle that is just to be open and honest about the subject. This book goes a long way in that, too.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by First Second, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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