cover image Go with the Flow

Go with the Flow

Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann. First Second, $21.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-30572-5

In a graphic novel about periods that is charming if a bit risk averse, Williams and Schneemann suggest that the best antidote to high school humiliation is friendship. New girl Sasha Chen worries she’s marked for life when her first period stains her white pants for all to see. She is rescued by a diverse, tight-knit group of friends: independent Christine, activist Abby, and romantic Brit, who is plagued by her own painful periods. Abby is outraged by the school’s empty tampon machines and begins researching the history of period politics. When she launches a one-woman period-destigmatization campaign, her friends feel embarrassed and alienated—especially Sasha, who is already “period girl” in the eyes of Hazelton High. This is one of the more realistic and nuanced turns in a work that at times prioritizes education over storytelling. But by depicting menstruation in the context of adolescent social minefields, Williams and Schneemann rescue the topic from dull health manuals. Expressive black-and-white illustrations enlivened by a winkingly all-red palette make for a quick, enjoyable read. The creators nimbly incorporate issues of sexuality and social media, creating contemporary parentheticals in a heartening period story. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10–14. Agent: Minju Chang, Bookstop Literary. (Jan.)