- Go with the Flow by Lily Williams
Williams, Lily Go with the Flow; written by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann; illus. by Lily Williams. First Second, 2020 [336p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-250-30572-5 $21.99 Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-250-14317-4 $14.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-8
Sasha Chen suffers a girl's worst nightmare her first week at a new school: her period bleeds though her white pants, leaving a visible red spot. Fortunately, sophomores Brit, Abby, and Christine come to her rescue, shuffling her off to the bathroom and providing a backside-covering sweater and a sanitary pad, no thanks to the consistently empty feminine-products vending machine. Politically minded Abby sees the lack of access to sanitary products as a social justice issue, but she's quickly rebuffed when she brings her concerns to the school administration. Her ensuing public protest campaign ultimately brings her friends—all of whom are dealing with their own issues including bullying, medical uncertainties, and sexuality—unwillingly into the fray. Menstrual justice is framed within an engaging, authentic friendship story to a surprising degree of success in this graphic novel. There is genuine affection and warmth among the girls, each a well-drawn individual, with distinct personalities and points of view. Abby's blog (The Mean Magenta) is a somewhat heavy-handed authorial device, but it offers a wealth of information on the larger social and cultural contexts of menstruation, while the more intimate aspects of periods are handled in the girls' realistic, humorous dialogue (especially funny is Christine's recounting of an unfortunate sneeze). Shades of red aptly make up the book's palette, and the cartoony style and figures resemble the Lumberjanes comic books. Fans of that series will appreciate this mix of friendship power and activism.