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In recent years, we have seen a vigorous exploration of the phenomenon of menstruation in the Scandinavian public sphere and within Scandinavian literature, to the extent that it has been coined a “menstrual revolution”. In that context, this article examines how contemporary Norwegian novels for children and young people treat the topic of menstruation, and in particular the topic of menarche, the first menstruation. The books put under scrutiny are Marianne Viermyr’s Blodig alvor, Anneli Klepp’s Hvis du elsker meg, Vera Micaelsen’s Hyperpubertet, Heidi Linde’s Pym Pettersons mislykka skoleball, and Gro Dahle and Kaia Dahle Nyhus’ graphic novel Megzilla. All five novels highlight the social, cultural and relational meanings and consequences of menarche and menstruation. In these novels, puberty implies the risk and anxiety of exposure by one’s body, and hence a strong need to exert control over the body. Prominent themes in these books are furthermore the difficulties of managing the menstruation and keeping it private, the importance of female support, and mother-daughter relationships marked by ambivalence. To shed light upon these findings, the literary works are discussed with reference to sociological and psychological research, in particular from the work by Laura Fringeson, Elina Oinas and Wendy Weil, as well as with reference to Swedish girlhood studies.
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