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These brief, engaging and oh-so-revealing anecdotes (90 in all) about first-time periods are written by a vast array of authors, professionals and youth. Edited by a freshman at Yale with a global mission (the "Do More" section at the back lists women's health and reproductive-rights charities), and modeled wittily on Chairman Mao's Little Red Book, these short essays tenderly cover the gamut of grief and embarrassment, joy and disappointment that accompanies the onslaught of menses, written by women from ages 15 to 101. Mostly, these authors concur that Mom didn't tell us much; we didn't expect the big moment even if we had been prompted by reading Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; and suddenly "becoming a woman" proved rather more irritating than momentous. These accounts are touching and brave-"The Curse, 1939," in which Lola Gerhard writes of starting to bleed cluelessly in the orphanage where she lived and being simply handed a "big bandage" and a belt ("That was it for sex education"); enduring the Old World ritual of being slapped by one's mother or ostracized, as one Indian author writes in "Locked in a Room with Dosai, 1962"; a more enthusiastic reaction by feminist mothers. Gloria Steinem's reprinted "If Men Could Menstruate" (1978) acts as a fulcrum, while others determined to break the silence rage, reminisce and resolve to banish the shame for their own daughters. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.