Blood moon by Lucy Cuthew

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Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406393446.
(Age: Yr 9 +) Recommended. This is not for the faint hearted, but is well worth the read. Frankie and her friends are going about their days, planning their futures, talking about their crushes, flirting with boys and enjoying life. Until besties Frankie and Harriet have a falling out over Harriet's poor decision making skills, leading to issues at school, in the wider school community and their circle of friends. Then Frankie has a very intimate moment with Benjamin, her first of any intimate moments, and she gets her period. Awkward. But both Frankie and Benjamin agree it's all good. Only blood. Whatever. Until the entire school finds out. And a horrid meme featuring Frankie goes viral. Frankie finds herself lost, alone and enduring online shaming to a volatile level. Who can she trust? What can she do? Is she disgusting, like everyone is saying?
My reaction to this book? Wow. Lives up to the hype. I really felt for Frankie, the ups and downs of her experiences, her changing friendships, her confusion over her romantic interest and the abyss of online bullying. I flew through the book in under a day, partly due to the unusual structure (the book is presented in an almost 'text message' format), though I flew through it mostly due to the gripping story. It is full of current pop culture references as well as issues in society - particularly around girls. A focus on astronomy throughout the book as a passion for Frankie and Harriet is well laid out and fits in to the story perfectly. Hashtags are incorporated throughout the story to emphasize thoughts and feelings, while the chapters are extremely short. I've not read a book like it. It is a powerful story, which should be read by all genders, more suited to older readers. I give it four out of five stars.
Book Club notes are available. Themes: Relationships, Periods, Bullying/Trolls, Shame, Feminism, Bravery.
Melanie Phillips