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About The Book

In the spirit of Judy Blume, this “character-driven, thought-provoking, often funny, and, above all, timely” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) middle grade novel celebrates finding yourself, making new friends, and standing up for what’s right as a girl becomes involved in menstrual activism.

Ever since a career-ending injury, former elite gymnast Eden has been feeling lost. To add insult to actual injury, her mom has been invited to present at her middle school’s career day, which would be fine except Mom’s company produces period products like pads and tampons. Having the whole school hear about it is total humiliation. And when Eden gets into a fight with a boy who won’t stop mocking her for it, she and her classmate Maribel both end up getting suspended.

Mom’s corporate executive job means she doesn’t have time to look after Eden while she’s suspended, so Eden is sent to volunteer at the food bank Maribel’s mom runs. There, she meets new friends who open her eyes to period poverty, the struggle that low-income people with periods have trying to afford menstrual products. Eden even meets a boy who gets periods. Witnessing how people fight for fair treatment inspires Eden to join the advocacy work.

But sewing pads to donate and pushing for free access to period products puts Eden at odds with her mom. Even so, Eden’s determined to hold onto the one thing that’s ignited her passion and drive since gymnastics. Can she stand her ground and make a real difference?

About The Author

Photograph © Joy McCullough-Carranza

Joy McCullough writes books and plays from her home in the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is the author of the middle grade novels Across the Pond, A Field Guide to Getting LostNot Starring Zadie LouiseCode Red, and Basil & Dahlia, as well as the middle grade series Team Awkward, and the picture books Harriet’s Ruffled Feathers, Champ and Major: First Dogs, and The Story of a Book. Her debut novel Blood Water Paint was longlisted for the National Book Award and was a William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 13, 2023)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534496286
  • Ages: 8 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

* "Learning about period poverty (and poverty, period), Eden ponders ways to fund period products and gets a crash course in income inequality . . . Readers learn about these subjects alongside Eden in a well-integrated way and will root for the quirky, well-rounded characters who challenge outdated cultural taboos. Character-driven, thought-provoking, often funny, and, above all, timely."

– Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

* "In Code Red, a stirring and thought-provoking middle-grade novel by Joy McCullough, a privileged but lonely teen's eyes open to issues of social inequity and period poverty. . . With themes of social justice, classism, trans awareness, and family pressure, Code Red is likely to enlighten, delight, and maybe even inspire middle-grade readers, menstruators and non-menstruators alike."

– Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW

"McCullough sheds light on issues of injustice, misogyny, and period poverty, as well as varying other challenges surrounding financial precarity, via Eden’s warmly rendered personal journey from laser-focused athlete to stalwart activist. Eden’s evolving relationship with her mother, and their opposing ideals, provide additional narrative heft."

– Publishers Weekly

"McCullough tackles period poverty with her usual feminist flair, yet the conversations bring along readers who may be less familiar with issues around menstrual equity. Changemakers eager to go against the flow will appreciate the paths Eden explores to increased self-awareness, advocacy, and social activism."

– Booklist

Awards and Honors

  • ALA Rise: A Feminist Book Project List Selectio

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More books from this author: Joy McCullough