Go With the Flow

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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?---from the publisher

336 pages                      978-1-250-14317-4                              Ages 10-14

Keywords:  period, menstruation, health, women, girls, coming of age, social commentary, social activist, social issues, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, 14 year old, graphic novel

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“I’m the only part of summer here

That made it inside

In the air-conditioned building

Decorated with corporate flair

I wonder

Can these boys smell me bleeding

Through my underwear”

-- Ani DiFranco, “Blood in the Boardroom” (1993)

 

I read the thought-provoking graphic novel GO WITH THE FLOW over a few hours, stopping only for a quick lunch. As soon as I finished, I began composing an email to the Vice President of our city school board. So far, I’ve only received an acknowledgement of my email, so I don’t yet know the situation in our middle schools and high schools. But I intend to follow up.

 

The following is what I wrote to that school board member about this book and what I want to know, as a result of reading the book:

 

I have just read an outstanding graphic novel published last month by First Second, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press. What I learned from reading the book has inspired me to seek information on SFUSD’s policy regarding the availability of free menstrual products for middle school and high school students.

 

Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann is an engaging story about four high school girlfriends. Sasha is the new girl at Hazelton High. Near the beginning of the school year, she experiences her first-ever period--on a day she is wearing white pants--and is rescued by Abby, Brit, and Christine.

Abby is an activist type. She is inspired by the incident to question why students are not provided free pads or tampons in the school’s restrooms. The school does have vending machines in the girls’ restrooms, but they are rarely if ever refilled. Abby becomes frustrated by the dismissive conduct of the male principal, coupled with the fact that the football team just got new uniforms. As a result, she takes action that gets her suspended but makes her a hero across social media.

I am excited to share this excellent story which features a multicultural cast and provides important feminine health information, both in the story and in the extensive back matter. The issue of access to menstrual products has my own inner activist protesting a problem I’ve never had to deal with. I am particularly moved by the argument that schools don’t charge students for toilet paper. Why should they charge students for menstrual products, which are just as necessary?

 

I did a brief Internet search and learned of California AB-10 “Feminine Hygiene Products: Public School Restrooms.” I do not know whether SFUSD falls under the pupil poverty threshold that subjects it to AB-10. I have no idea whether or not SFUSD already has a policy on providing free menstrual products in student restrooms. I am hoping that you will tell me what you know about how this issue is addressed in our school district, and will join me in seeking to resolve any shortcomings in the District’s policies.

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I’m hoping that, in a similar fashion, some readers, who are fortunate enough to run across this one, will decide to speak up if the school they attend don’t adequately provide for the hygiene of their students

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

See more of Richie's Picks  http://richiespicks.pbworks.com

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