review: Period Power

+-+2198982056_140.jpgtitle: Period Power : A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement
author: Nadya Okamoto
date: Simon and Schuster; 2018
YA nonfiction

You might look at the cover of this book that is decorated with a Pepto Bismol pink background and bold red lettering and expect a boring informational text, embarrassing even because the book, after all, is about periods. Why on earth would anyone write about that? Well, if you think back to The Talk you gave to a young person, or that you received when you were growing up (regardless of your gender!) chances are you were told very little about menstruation. That’s where this books begins: by filling in the missing details. And, it’s not boring.

The book actually goes far beyond filling in biological details by making readers aware of how women throughout the United States suffer from a lack of available menstrual supplies, are humiliated in the process to obtain them and the discrimination women have faced for centuries simply because they menstruate. Okamoto unpacks what led her to begin PERIOD : The Menstrual Movement as well as the work she continues to do to reduce the stigma associated with menstruation. This is her manifesto. As her work quickly went viral through social media. In her activism to bring about meaningful change in schools and prisons, Okamoto came to realize the power of information. Consequently, her delivery borders on scholarly because she knows to support every claim she makes so that decision makers will hear her. The information she provides is well organized, factual and actually quite interesting.

While Okamoto’s work is meant to empower women by encouraging open conversations about periods, it’s her work to make visible the marginalization of the least of women because of their periods that is the crux of her work. She gives voice to women in schools, prisons and jails and who are homeless. While acknowledging race and class differences with respect to access to menstrual supplies she, considers more that only cis women.

Nadya Okamoto, an Asian American, was 16 when she began Period : The Menstrual Movement. She left Harvard to continue work on the movement which has grown to over 150 chapters.

2018 was certainly a year for a recognizable presence of politics and activism in children’s literature and in that regard, Period Power : A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement does not disappoint. This book belongs in every middle school, high school and public library.