Code Red

S. & S./Atheneum. Jun. 2023. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534496262.
Gr 4-7–Thirteen-year-old Eden comes from a wealthy family and has divorced parents. When her mom speaks in front of the entire school on Career Day about the menstruation products her company sells, Eden is mortified. Her classmates won’t stop with the period jokes! Eden also struggles with gymnastics as her body changes after an injury; the only encouragement she gets to continue comes from her grandma. After the Career Day disaster, Eden’s troubles with her mom lead her to a new friend and family; they stick up for her, and make her feel more loved and understood. During the course of the story, Eden gets her first period (after which she learns about sewing reusable pads), and gets involved with a play. These activities help fill the time when she would normally be doing gymnastics. She has to learn who she is again, if not a gymnast. As Eden’s interests grow, her life becomes more rewarding and fulfilling. She tackles confrontations with her mom about conflicting goals with bravery and honesty, which result in a healthier relationship between mother and daughter. McCullough’s latest middle grade novel introduces readers to period poverty, volunteerism, activism, and a trans boy who needs period products. Back material includes a personal note from the author, statistics about menstruation, tips for getting menstrual products in schools, a glossary of terms, a bibliography of movies and books, and contacts for menstrual movement organizations.
VERDICT Readers who feel ignored by busy family members or need information about puberty might enjoy this realistic book.

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