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It’s That Time of the Month
How often do characters in young adult books get their periods?
Kelly at Stacked and I were discussing this the other day, in the context of the people who live in dystopias who never have to worry about this, apparently. I imagine the arguments on the other side: not every detail of life is shown, people are under stress/malnutrition, the book is set during a less than one month time period. Still, it’s a part of life, and how often is that included in books for young adults?
There is, of course, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. As you may remember from three years ago, Common Sense Media’s original review of Margaret recommended it for those over 14, in part because it mentioned menstruation (see Meg Cabot’s blog entry discussing this in greater detail).
The problem in trying to think of titles is that I don’t always track this type of thing, unless there is a memorable scene, such as in This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers.
Historical fiction definitely adds another layer to the conversation, because of the difference in ages when girls matured, etc. If you’re interested in the topic, the website History of Menstruation & Women’s Health is fascinating.
What about fantasy? Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, for example, featured a character whose ability to communicate with others via dreams happens when she bleeds, and that includes getting her period. Alanna by Tamora Pierce also mentions the main character menstruating.
This is by no means a complete list. Do you think it matters, if say, someone is on a several months long quest or adventure and this never comes up? Or is it one of those things you just assumes happens but doesn’t need to be on the page?
And what books would you add to the list?
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About Elizabeth Burns
Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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