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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Go with the Flow, a graphic novel by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann, takes on the often taboo subjects of menstruation and "period activism" with heart, humor, and a maturity just right for young readers. Readers who find the topic a little embarrassing will see the word "period" used so often that it becomes casual conversation within the book. Any young girl who has had her period at school can relate to the dread of unstocked feminine product machines in bathrooms, the terror of blood showing on pants, and the wish that periods would just go away forever. The support the girls show their diverse friend group is powerful, and a great example of female friendship at an especially vulnerable age. The girls feel comfortable talking about their periods and bodies, and about their frustrations with others and each other. The captivating illustrations are all in various shades of red, getting lighter and darker with the girls' varying tone throughout the story. Readers this age are often shy to talk about their crushes, and the panels here show the varying levels of understanding about their same- and opposite-sex attractions. There are also pages of facts about female activists, the taxes applied to feminine hygiene products, and a section at the end of the book about the different kinds of periods women have, period pain, and how to be a period activist.
What's the story?
GO WITH THE FLOW tackles the often hush-hush topic of menstruation and the financial cost of buying supplies to handle bleeding every month. When Sasha, the new girl at Hazelton High School, unexpectedly gets her first period and bleeds through her pants, a group of girls step in to help. Friends Abby, Christine, and Brit take her to the bathroom, but discover that the vending machine for pads and tampons is empty -- and so are most machines in the school. Abby asks the principal to be sure they're stocked, or even free of charge, and he dismisses it as "her problem." She decides to take action for the half of the school that bleeds, but her protest goes too far and alienates her friends. Meanwhile, Brit deals with the pain of endometriosis, Sasha feels immature because she's small, and Christine starts to recognize a same-sex crush.
Is it any good?
There's so much to love about the honest, loving friendships in this graphic novel, and the realistic, vulnerable ways conversations about menstruation fit into their lives. Every period is different, and Go with the Flow shows both the physical and financial costs, and empowers women to stand up together to normalize a biological function. The honesty between the girls never seems forced, especially when Abby's period activism starts to affect them all, and every person in their diverse friend group has a valuable perspective. The red tones in the illustrations are on topic, and a brilliant way to convey mood and action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the principal in Go with the Flow reacted the way he did to the girls' request. How do you think your principal would respond?
How do you think girls at your school would react to period activism? Would boys react differently?
Do you think it's important for kids and teens to speak up about issues that are important to them? What issue would you fight for? What other books about activism have you read?
- Authors: Lily Williams, Karen Schneemann
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Activism, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: First Second
- Publication date: January 14, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: March 24, 2020
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