The Red Zone

A Love Story

by Chloe Caldwell

List Price: $16.95
Paperback | 320 pages | ISBN 9781593766993

A searching, galvanizing memoir about blood and love: how learning more about her period, PMS, PMDD, and the effects of hormones on moods transformed her relationships—to a new partner, to family, to non-blood kin, and to her own body—from the beloved essayist and author of Women

Chloe Caldwell’s period has often felt inconvenient, uncomfortable, or even painful. It’s only once she’s in her thirties, as she’s falling in love with Tony, a musician and single dad, that its effects on her mood start to dominate her life. Spurred by the intensity and seriousness of her new relationship, it strikes her: her outbursts of anxiety and rage match her hormonal cycle.

Compelled to understand the truth of what’s happening to her, Chloe documents attitudes toward menstruation among her peers and family, reads Reddit threads about PMS, attends a conference called Break the Cycle, and learns about premenstrual dysphoric disorder, PMDD, which helps her name what she’s been going through. For Chloe, healing isn’t about finding a single cure. It means reflecting on underlying patterns in her life: her feelings about her queer identity and writing persona in the context of a heterosexual relationship; how her parents’ divorce contributed to her issues with trust; and what it means to blend a family.

The Red Zone is a candid, revelatory memoir for anyone grappling with controversial medical diagnoses and labels of all kinds. It’s about coming to terms with the fact that—along with proper treatment—self-acceptance, self-compassion, and transcending shame are the ultimate keys to relief. It’s also about love: how challenging it can be, how it reveals your weaknesses and wounds, and how, if you allow it, it will push you to grow and change.

Praise for The Red Zone

A Nylon Most Anticipated Book of the Year 

A BuzzFeed Most Anticipated Book of the Year 

A Glamour Most Anticipated Book of the Year

The Millions, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

“This memoir explores finding the language and communication skills to come to terms with emotions and physical pain beyond anything we have ever encountered in media, social or familial conversation, medical treatment . . . I wish it was around back in the 1990s. I’m glad it’s here now. This is one you’re going to buy for the teenager as well as your friends and colleagues in their twenties and thirties. With a love story entwined with a chorus of voices, this is compulsively enjoyable and empowering memoir.” —Lauren LeBlanc, The Observer, Best Memoirs of Spring

“Scintillating . . . [Caldwell] smartly blends the personal and cultural to confront the ways women’s suffering has been dismissed throughout history . . . The result gives a vibrant voice to a struggle that many have been taught to quietly shoulder alone. This is an audacious tribute to women everywhere.” —Publishers Weekly

“Caldwell delves deeply into medical and social aspects of menstruation as well as complex aspects of women’s health, identity, marriage, and family, resulting in a fresh, intimate, and engaging chronicle.” —Booklist

 “Caldwell’s candor about all things menstrual is the greatest strength of this dynamic book . . . [W]omen who suffer from PMDD will take solace in the ups and downs of Caldwell’s journey toward self-acceptance, health, and love. The narrative may also appeal to anyone who suffers frustration and anger in the face of an illness for which they struggle to get an accurate diagnosis, a situation that disproportionately affects women. Provocatively intimate reading.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Not since Elizabeth Wurtzel’s More, Now, Again have I been so obsessed with a book of nonfiction. I read The Red Zone in one day, in one chair, four cups of coffee, and after: a single cigarette. Obsessed.” —Elizabeth Ellen, founder/editor of SF/LD Books, author of Person/a and Her Lesser Work

“Chloe Caldwell invites us to call shotgun on one of her most intimate, moving, and hilarious rides yet! Tinder, THC, Poshmark, WebMD, Prozac, diner eggs, ovulation—The Red Zone has all the highs and lows you come to expect in her delightful nonfiction. Plus, her exploration of PMDD and being a stepmom offers a texture all its own. The Red Zone operates like a love story indeed on so many levels—we readers feel so loved turning every page of this gorgeous offering.” —Porochista Khakpour, author of Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity and Sick: A Memoir

“It’s the greatest love story known to woman: that of herself with her own body. This is deep, wild genius at work—a sharp, generous, questing, very funny book that lays bare the grueling extremes of menstruation. THERE WILL BE BLOOD. And thank god for that. Because we bleed. We bleed and bleed and bleed. As much as they want to pretend we don’t. Chloe Caldwell writes with guts and grace. We are very lucky to have her.” —Emma Jane Unsworth, author of Grown Ups

The Red Zone: A Love Story is a period memoir as only Chloe Caldwell could write it, with warmth and particularity and charm. I smiled in recognition every few pages, read parts angrily aloud to my husband as though they were his fault, and laughed loudly enough at others to wake up my dogs. Yes, it’s a love story, but The Red Zone is also an adventure, which may sound like a strange descriptor for a book about PMDD until you have experienced it through Caldwell’s wry, piercing, fundamentally optimistic eyes. Both personal and communal, searching and exuberant, The Red Zone will speak to anyone who has been led by pain, curiosity, or misdiagnosis to become a detective of her own body.” —Kristi Coulter, author of Nothing Good Can Come from This

“The necessity and urgency of The Red Zone made me wonder how I—and any woman—had lived so long without it. Through the lens of PMDD and the female body, Caldwell refracts every issue imaginable, from relationships to hormones to queerness to stepmotherhood to blended families, all with hilarity, intimacy, and depth. Feeling seen by this book is an understatement; it’s a survival guide.” —Zaina Arafat, author of You Exist Too Much

“A coming-of-age memoir for those of us in our thirties who are still trying to come of age, Chloe Caldwell’s The Red Zone is an incredible tale of vulnerability, family, and periods. As hilarious as it is heartfelt, and as informative as it is inspirational, here is as honest a tale of self-discovery—and eventual self-acceptance—as has ever been written. A bloody brilliant book.” —Isaac Fitzgerald, author of Dirtbag, Massachusetts

“Finally (finally!) someone wrote a book about struggling to understand your body and your heart and finding the answers on the internet. This book is moving, funny, and impossible to put down. Caldwell reveals the messiness of life in a way few writers can pull off.” —Chelsea Martin, author of Caca Dolce: Essays from a Lowbrow Life

“Not since Elizabeth Wurtzel’s More, Now, Again have I been so obsessed with a book of nonfiction. I read The Red Zone in one day, in one chair, four cups of coffee, and after: a single cigarette. Obsessed.” —Elizabeth Ellen, founder/editor of SF/LD Books, author of Person/a and Her Lesser Work

“Sentences like poetry, insights like medicine, the most romantic love story, the most spot-on depiction of life in the female body. I needed this book. Chloe Caldwell is among the most important literary voices of our time. Women are going to pass The Red Zone around forever.” —Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire and Skinny

The Red Zone is an intense, informative, highly entertaining book about the menstrual cycle, sexism, bickering, divorce, marriage, stepmotherhood, holistic and gradual self-healing, and the layered effort to move from impulsivity and fear to stability and growth.” —Tao Lin, author of Leave Society 

The Red Zone showcases Chloe Caldwell at her best, with her trademark blend of humor and vulnerability. This is a special book, skillfully balancing practical knowledge with artistic deftness, and sharpness with sweetness.” —Juliet Escoria, author of Juliet the Maniac


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