GO WITH THE FLOW by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann is aimed at ages 9-14, but parents and caregivers would do well to read too. This straightfoward and totally-comfortable-with-menstruation graphic novel manages to bundle many high school and societal issues into one story. When a group of friends “rescues” a new girl from public period leakage, a movement is born that demands access to period products and awareness about all the side-effects surrounding menstruation. It’s all presented in such a casual and matter-of-fact way that readers can’t help but get more comfortable with the subject despite themselves.
Friends Abby, Brit, and Christine take new girl Sasha under their collective wing when they see her being teased about bleeding through her white pants. When the sanitary product dispenser is empty (like always!), Abby takes on the cause which includes angry blog entries, fuming about the “pink tax,” a meeting with an apathetic principal, letters to district leaders, and a go big or go home display that crosses a bit too far for her friends. Along the way, we hear about Brit’s painful periods that cause her to miss school, Christine’s budding sexual awareness, and Sasha’s dipping a toe into dating as she’s dealing with bullying. The authors also bring up varying issues surrounding menstruation including heavy and light flows, trans men, early and late menstruation, length of periods, and more via Abby’s blog posts and comments left there.
The friends are diverse in their attitudes, backgrounds, body types, family backgrounds, and menstrual cycles. Somehow the authors manage to make it all feel familiar but aspirational as opposed to forced or contrived. Typical middle grade topics are broached with conflicts and support between friends, love interests, self-awareness, bullying, feeling alone, and more. However, period equity is centered throughout GO WITH THE FLOW, and all readers will be the better for it.