Monday, February 8, 2010

My Little Red Book - Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

Summary: My Little Red Book is an anthology of stories about first periods, collected from women of all ages from around the world. The accounts range from lighthearted (the editor got hers while water skiing in a yellow bathing suit) to heart-stopping (a first period discovered just as one girl was about to be strip-searched by the Nazis). The contributors include well-known women writers (Meg Cabot, Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem, Cecily von Ziegesar), alongside today's teens.

Ultimately, My Little Red Book is more than a collection of stories. It is a call for a change iin attitude. By revealing what if feels like to undergo this experience firsthand and giving women the chance to explain their feelings in their own words, My Little Red Book aims to provide support, entertainment, and a starting point for discussion for mothers and daughters everywhere. (Image from - Summary from back of book)

My review: The Unwelcome Visitor. The Curse. The Crimson Wave. The Rag. Aunt Flo.

Call it what you will, this book is about periods.

My Little Red Book is a rather unique compilation of essays that, through a series “first period” accounts, stresses the lack of communication as women and between women about our bodies. Women, in general, have always tended to shy away from discussing topics like sexual development-- which has led to a wealth of misinformation among younger generations as they hit puberty. These first-period narratives come in a variety of forms, from poetry to rant to the purposely fictionalized. Many of the experiences are tragic, some mortifying, and others riotously funny. The further I read, the more I began to embrace its' message and feel comfortable delving in to another woman’s life on such a personal level. Each narrative was deeply moving in its’ own way and offered a meaningful connection through the page—from me to them—and a sense of solidarity among all women with a similar experience.

Overall, I thought that My Little Red Book was interesting. Note the italics. Perhaps it’s greatest gift was the opportunity for introspection. It was thought-provoking and insightful. It made me reflect on society’s tendency to keep things quiet, to make perfectly natural things seem shameful. I ached for the girls who thought they were dying, or that they couldn’t tell anyone or perhaps worse still, when they did, received little support during this changing time in their lives. Finally, it made me dig through my own memories and reflect on how I would like to broach this topic with my own daughters. How open do I want to be? Answer: Very. However, I promise here and now not to announce it at the dinner table.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone (hence the rating). But I would recommend it to most women and mothers with young daughters in an effort encourage openness and communication about this important rite of passage. I also feel that My Little Red Book would make for an interesting book club pick as well (and it comes with a reading group guide).

My Rating: 3.9 Stars. For the sensitive reader: As you might imagine, this book is entirely open about periods and the female body, but was tactful and informative without being vulgar.

Sum it up: A thoroughly unique and insightful book. Period. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

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