Review of Go with the Flow

Go with the Flow
by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann; illus. by Lily Williams
Middle School, High School    First Second/Roaring Brook    $14.99
1/20    978-1-250-30572-5    $21.99
Paper ed.  978-1-250-14317-4    $14.99

After noticing bloodstains on new-girl Sasha’s white pants, longtime friends Abby, Christine, and Brit swoop in and save the day. It’s Sasha’s first ­menstrual period, and the tampon and pad dispensers at Hazelton High are empty — as always. So Abby digs out her “emergency pad,” and Brit offers her sweatshirt to conceal the stains. It’s a bonding ­experience for all the young women. But for Abby, it’s even more: it’s a call to action. Why are the tampon and pad machines never filled, yet the football team has new uniforms? She reads up on menstruation, blogs about it, meets with the principal, and conducts a letter-writing campaign. A final “go big or go home” strategy upsets her friends — especially Sasha, who is still trying to live down her “Bloody Mary” episode. Abby’s activism builds slowly over the course of the girls’ sophomore year, and it’s deftly mixed in with typical teenage goings-on (homecoming, crushes, trigonometry, prom). Based on Williams and Schneemann’s webcomic The Mean Magenta, this potent fusion of feminism and friendship aims to normalize conversation about menstruation, with an authentically diverse group of main characters who differ in race, sexual orientation, family structure, body type, and period pain. Williams gets the life-as-a-high-schooler details just right in expressive panels shaded in — what else? — red tones. An authors’ note, facts about menstruation, and suggested resources are appended.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Tanya D. Auger

Tanya D. Auger
Tanya D. Auger is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in learning and teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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