Because People with Uteruses Bleed – Monthly for Most of Them, a look at MURDER ON A SCHOOL NIGHT
Earlier this year, Florida proposed and then passed legislation that would ban the discussion of periods or menstruation in elementary schools. It went into effect on July 1st, ironically just days before we apparently celebrate our American freedoms. Most elementary schools are grades K-5, which means they typically have students that go up to age 11ish. The bill prohibits the teaching of menstruation before grade 6. Most people with a uterus start their periods between the ages of 10 and 15, but it can happen as young as age 8. So what are those kids supposed to do? Is no one going to tell them what is happening to them? Are they not going to be able to ask their friend, their teacher, or their school nurse for a pad or a tampon?
When I was in the 7th grade, my friends and classmates spent an entire month sharing and reading ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET by Judy Blume. This is a book that talk about a young girl coming of age and one of the things it discusses is her period. What I remember most about it is my friends all saying, “I can’t wait to start my period!” and me thinking, did you not understand what that was? But the truth is, that book helped me better understand what was soon going to be happening to me. It was, at the time, the only book available to me to help me understand what this life of having a body that would bleed monthly was going to be like. It was informative and transformative; it was, in a word, essential. And being able to talk about what was coming with my peers helped us all process a very important part of what it meant for us to be young girls.
In today’s YA, there is still an absence of talk about menstruation in a lot of books. I often find myself reading fantasy or dystopian and thinking, hmmmmm, I wonder what they are doing about their periods. But over the years, there has been a slow but steady progress as more and more books talk about the fact that uteruses are designed to bleed and it is just a fact of life. There are some links below to highlight some of those titles.
Which brings me to the upcoming book MURDER ON A SCHOOL NIGHT. This book will be published tomorrow, on Independence Day, and it talks about periods. In fact, it is dubbed a menstrual murder. From the description below, you can see that it pulls no punches. So on a day when we are supposed to be celebrating our freedom, a book that asks us to talk – and joke – about what it means to have a period will be released. Ironically, it will probably get banned, because freedom I guess.
Now I have not yet read this book, so this is not a review or an endorsement. I just thought, in light of the fact that the don’t say period book would soon go into effect, that I would highlight a book that asks us to say period a lot is being released. I thought I would exercise my right to tell y’all about this book while I still can. Just in case. Also, this book is YA, so you’ll want to make note of that.
Publisher’s Book Description:
A hilarious murder mystery–rom-com from author and comedian Kate Weston investigates the sinister side of social media when bullying turns bloody—and a string of classmate deaths by menstrual cup and sanitary pad sets amateur sleuth Kerry hot on the trail of a menstrual murderer. Perfect for fans of Truly Devious and Fleabag.
There’s never a good time to find a dead body, sure. But what about finding a dead body while you’re trying to kiss your crush? Kerry had different plans for her first high school party—like not going. All she wanted to do was stay home in the safety of retro rom-coms and her strict retainer schedule. Instead her BFF, fiercely outgoing mystery-fanatic Annie, has roped her into going to the party to investigate who’s cyberbullying Heather, the most popular girl in school.
Finding herself getting close with her dreamy crush is odd enough, but when the two of them discover Heather’s second in command, Selena, suffocated with a menstrual cup, things get really weird. And when a second student turns up dead, this time with a sanitary pad across the eyes, Annie and Kerry—no matter how much she resists—are officially on the case to stop the menstrual murderer . . . period.
A nuanced, hilarious page-turning romantic mystery.’ — Kirkus Reviews
The girls’ chemistry as best friends and partners-in-crime-solving is energizing. Refreshing attention to sex positivity and period politics combined with Weston’s timing—both comedic and plot driven—ensure a laugh-out-loud romp.’ — Publishers Weekly
Please note: Below are some older posts and booklists that talk about menstruation in the life of teens. Some of the older posts talk about girls and women having periods. Over time, my language has evolved and I now refer to people with uteruses. This proves that growth can happen, but I wanted to note the older language before you read the posts.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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