Go with the Flow is one of those books I read in an hour or two and wished had been around when I was in middle school. This is a middle grade graphic novel great for kids in late elementary, middle, and high school. I fell in love with this book about friendship and period activitism!
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The summary, from Amazon:
High school students embark on a crash course of friendship, female empowerment, and women’s health issues in Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann’s graphic novel Go With the Flow.
Good friends help you go with the flow.
Best friends help you start a revolution.
Sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are fed up. Hazelton High never has enough tampons. Or pads. Or adults who will listen.
Sick of an administration that puts football before female health, the girls confront a world that shrugs―or worse, squirms―at the thought of a menstruation revolution. They band together to make a change. It’s no easy task, especially while grappling with everything from crushes to trig to JV track but they have each other’s backs. That is, until one of the girls goes rogue, testing the limits of their friendship and pushing the friends to question the power of their own voices.
Now they must learn to work together to raise each other up. But how to you stand your ground while raising bloody hell?
Buy Go with the Flow here.
When Sasha has a period emergency at school, she forms an instant friendship with BFFs Abby, Brit, and Christine who have her back when other students make fun of her moment of embarrassment. While in the restroom, Abby becomes indignant that the pad and tampon dispenser not only requires money, but is empty. The girls decide that this isn’t right and work together to appeal to the school board, their senators, etc. to make a change.
This is such a timeless book in that I could have used it in middle school and know kids today will appreciate it, too. Brit’s storyline about having to miss school because of her period cramps and being scared something is medically “wrong” with her reminded me of my own period troubles when I was a teenager. I loved the support her friends and family gave her. The girls as a whole are such good friends, and even when one of them makes a mistake, they have each other’s backs and are able to forgive and move on.
Abby is the ringleader of the activism, and her blog provides a nonfiction element to the story. Abby blogs about period history, famous women who she empower her, and more. I really liked this part of the storyline.
Christine and Sasha have great stories, too. Christine’s popular guy friend has an obvious crush on her, but she feels uncomfortable because she doesn’t like boys. (There’s a possible queer romance in this story, and it’s super cute.) Sasha deals with bullying after her menstrual “accident” but overcomes the embarrassment with the help of her new friends. She also meets another new kid in school and starts a relationship with him.
The backmatter in this book is really important. It provides more information and resources on periods and period activism. I loved that the authors encouraged kids to talk to their friends about their periods to break the stigma and to make sure that their experiences are “normal”. (They do specify that there is a different normal for everyone, but it’s important to talk about your period, especially if you might be concerned about one of the symptoms surrounding it.) This is a very empowering read for anyone who menstruates at any age – or anyone who knows how important it is to break the stigma surrounding menstruation. I really appreciated that Go with the Flow was representative, with a diverse cast (including background characters). While the protagonists are all cis girls, Abby and the authors make sure to note that trans men and gender-nonconforming people menstruate too.
Overall, this was an excellent 5 star read and I think a possible coming-of-age classic for kids and teens experiencing menstruation.
Find out more about how I rate books here.
Go with the Flow by Lily Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a great book! Go With the Flow is about a group of friends who want there to be free menstrual products in the high school bathroom. The friendship story is great, and there’s a lot of information on periods and period activism. Huge fan of this book, and as someone who had an experience similar to Brit’s, I could’ve used this book in middle school.
Book Club Questions
- Did you learn anything about periods or period activism from reading this book? If so, what did you learn? Is there anything you want to research further?
- Are menstrual products readily available and accessible at your school or workplace? Is there something you can do to ensure that they are?
- Did any of the girls’ stories regarding their periods resonate with you or remind you of your menstrual experience?
- Which storyline was your favorite? Why?
- Do you think Christine and her crush will end up in a relationship? How might this affect the friend group?
- Have you used any of the resources in the backmatter? Do you have any resources to share or recommend?
- What other coming-of-age books (fiction or nonfiction) surrounding periods can you think of? How does Go with the Flow stack up amongst them?
Interested? Buy Go with the Flow.
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