When Frankie and her best friend Harriet fall out over an inappropriate email sent to a teacher, her new relationship with the lovely Benjamin offers a welcome escape. They share an interest in space as well as a strong physical attraction. When Frankie gets her period on their first sexual encounter, they agree it’s only blood. No problem. But then it goes viral on social media and the online shaming starts…
Cuthew packs so much into this carefully crafted verse novel, deftly capturing the emotional swerves of teenagers and tackling the taboo of periods. The way she writes about the intoxication of a crush, the sense of loss as friendships waver, and the intensity of teenage embarrassment and shame, feels real and tangible. I confess that as the mother of two teens, I found some of it hard to read, in particular with it feeding my anxieties about them avoiding similar pitfalls on social media (how much easier it was being a teenager in a pre-mobile phone era!). For its target audience though, it is a lesson in resilience, standing up for yourself and challenging things that you think are wrong. Although at points quite a tough read, it is ultimately hopeful and a robust response to social media shaming and the stigma around periods.
There are some good clips on YouTube of Cuthew talking about the book and further information on her website including Book Club Notes and Blood Moon Bunting. Teachers notes are also available from Walker Books, which give some good ideas about navigating some of the trickier issues raised in the book.