When I started reading My Little Red Book, a collection of women’s stories about their first periods edited by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, I initially felt mildly disappointed because many of the stories seemed too short and, well, too ordinary somehow, not “literary” enough. And yet by the time I finished the book I felt moved to tears (and inspired to write about and reflect on my own experiences of menstruation). Covering some 90 years of women’s history (from 1916 to 2008) and including 92 essays and poems by women from all walks of life, the power of this anthology is not so much in the individual stories—although many of them are powerful in their own right—but rather in their collective impact. From funny to heart-rending, embarrassing to empowering, each of these stories illuminates what is, after all, a “momentous occasion” (as Nalebuff put it) in every woman’s life.
Highlights of this book for me were: “Hot Dog on a String, 1993” by Ellen Devine, who writes about witnessing something sacred as a child; “Ink Blots and Milk Spots, 1987,” an imaginative retelling of first blood by Krista Madsen; “The Simple Vase: Part I, 1997” and “The Simple Vase: Part II, 1997,” two versions of the same event written by mother and daughter Laura and Rebecca Wexler; “Blood Month, 1979” by Sandra Guy, who writes poignantly about growing up without her sister; and “Twelve-Step Program, 1946” by Marcia Nalebuff (the editor’s grandmother), a touching piece about a grandmother saying exactly the right thing.
Other reviewers have suggested this anthology is particularly good for preteens and mothers of preteens; while I wouldn’t disagree, I would add that My Little Red Book is likely to be of interest to all women.
Thank you to Hachette for sending me this book to review.
My Little Red Book is on blog tour throughout the month of March. Visit these other blogs for reviews, giveaways, interviews and guest posts:
Marta’s Meanderings • At Home with Books • B&b ex libris • Zensanity • Marjolein Reviews • Write for a Reader • Cafe of Dreams • Brimful Curiosities • Wendy’s Minding Spot • Book Bargains & Previews • Bookopolis • Worducopia • Ms. Bookish • Books in Every Room • The Epic Rat • Reading with Monie • The Book Lady’s Blog • Carol’s Notebook
Would you like to win a copy of My Little Red Book? In honour of Women’s History Month, Hachette has generously offered to send five copies of the book to my readers. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only (no P.O. boxes). I will accept entries until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Monday, March 30.
Since March is Women’s History Month, for one entry, leave a comment here and mention one of your favourite female historical figures. (If you want, you can also tell me why she’s one of your favourites).
For another five entries, become a follower of my blog or subscribe to my blog through Google Reader (or equivalent). If you are already a follower or subscriber, let me know and you will still get the five extra entries. (Please do not comment that you are a follower five times! I will tabulate each person’s entries separately.)
Please be sure to provide me with a way of getting in touch with you. Entries without a blog link or email address will be disqualified.
Best of luck and happy Women’s History Month!