As with so many books, this one came into my life right when I needed it. I’d been thinking a lot lately about my relationship with my body and my sex, to include menstruation. This wonderful collection of stories and other creative writing brought forth a lot of the same feelings I’d had over the years, from the initial confusion at the strange thing happening to my body that nobody warned me about, to issues with the pain each month. It was reassuring to be reminded in such a gentle way that I wasn’t the only one with the same thoughts and fears on my mind.

The anthology features a good variety of coming-of-age stories. There are tales of women who help their daughters celebrate their menarche as a special occasion, contrasted with girls who were given little sympathy when they confessed their horror at what seemed to be a horrible medical problem. Each one is unique, rather than being a rehash of the same tale. A collection of well-written, image-evoking poetry rounds out the book.

I was a bit surprised to see that one of the stories, “Blueberries”, was written by a man. I hadn’t even noticed until I read the contributors’ biographies at the back of the book. I do have to give Jim Gorman major kudos for managing to write soulfully on a topic he’s never experienced himself.

And he is joined by an amazing array of talented woman word-weavers. From Carmen Faymonville’s amusing “The Love of Cramps” to Trudelle Thomas’ spiritual “The Moon Goddess”, this book was an absolute treat. It’s honest about the natural cycles of the body, and shows us that there really is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather than lecturing, though, it teaches through storytelling, and for that alone it is a valuable text.

~reviewed by Lupa

Editor: Cassie Primo Steele, Ph.D.

Summerhouse Press, 1999

pp. 173