The Red Zone

Author: Caldwell, Chloe

Publication Date:

April 2022



Original language and publisher

English | Soft Skull

Territories Handled

World excl. English North America


Narrative Non-Fiction

The Red Zone

Author: Caldwell, Chloe


“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

“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

“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

“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

“Though Caldwell has always known how to write a juicy personal essay, I found this book to be her most interesting . . . . The Red Zone, like Caldwell’s other work, continues to remind us that rage should not be contained, it matters and should be written about. During a time when many are examining how the body and mind connect during our worst mental breakdowns and arguments with others, The Red Zone is essential reading.” —Peter Dyer, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Caldwell’s writing reads like a concise and frank poetics . . . [Her] boldness is arresting and unavoidable . . . With The Red Zone, Caldwell hits the high note of personal narrative at its best: the felt sense that the story being told is not only of one body and life, but of many bodies and many lives.” —Alexandra Middleton, The Rumpus

 “I first read the novella Women by Chloe Caldwell when I was heartbroken over my first queer relationship, and it became my go-to recommendation for people to understand what I had gone through. I can only imagine her new memoir, The Red Zone, will become that book for many more people: ones with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), difficult periods, medical concerns that evade diagnoses, or even just people whose relationship to labels of all sorts is ever-changing. Chloe Caldwell is known for her candor and honesty in her writing and The Red Zone more than lives up to that reputation.”  —Analyssa Lopez, Autostraddle

“Characteristically affecting, sharp, and funny.”  —Katie Heaney, The Cut 

“In her memoir The Red Zone: A Love Story, Caldwell grapples with the realities of her 30s . . . Caldwell is grown now. Strange visitors are at her door—PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and a prospective life partner who happens to be a divorced man with a daughter. Here, our heroine is on a different journey: to establish a peace accord with her own period, whose cyclical hormonal fluctuations wreak havoc on her body and relationships . . . To find relief, she harnesses her episodes for semi-scientific investigation and emotional revelations that do, ultimately, serve to connect Caldwell with Tony, his daughter and a network of women obsessed with finding out why they cycle through rage and agony. These women have suffered excruciating, often emotionally shattering episodes that are alternately undisclosed, unrecognized or dismissed . . . I found myself texting images of certain pages to a friend I suspect may have PMDD.”  —Kristen Millares Young, The Washington Post

“Caldwell’s book is refreshingly different, honoring the intimacy and conflict that menstruation can bring . . . A humorous, tender, and informative memoir, The Red Zone shows readers how exploring our bodies can help us connect to the deepest parts of who we are and how we relate to others.”  —Nylah Burton, BitchReads

“Both frank and emotionally resonant . . . A welcome return for an assured and compelling literary voice.”  Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Caldwell’s cathartic The Red Zone will be a comfort and a revelation to those suffering.” —Laura Waddell, The Scotsman

“Periods are often shrouded in mystery and shame. But in Chloé Caldwell’s new memoir, The Red Zone: A Love Story, she brings the period front and center by making the rhythm of a menstrual cycle the rhythm of a life . . . It’s humorous and genuine . . . a story about the things we so often fear society will render illegitimate through its judgmental gaze—periods, being a stepparent, bisexuality, divorce. But it shows us that the only gaze required to render our experiences as legitimate is our own, searing and red-hot, and always fiercely authentic.”  —Nylah Burton, Shondaland

“​​Caldwell comes to the realization in her 30s that her strong waves of emotion are tied inextricably with her menstrual cycle . . . With wry humor, Caldwell takes the reader with her on her journey of not only discovering what’s wrong, but dealing with the symptoms of it. She tells the love story between herself and her body as she works to understand it better.” Emma Cariello, Chronogram

“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

“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 their 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

“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

“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

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 and artistic deftness, and sharpness with sweetness.”  —Juliet Escoria, author of Juliet the Maniac 

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

“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 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

“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

“A PMS/PMDD memoir: a story of female creation in the face of fluctuation and destruction, and a story of love when that love is difficult to bear.” —Elizabeth McNeill, Full Stop

“Read it with a hot-water bottle on your abdomen and chocolate close at hand, then lend it to all your menstruating friends.” —Jenny Singer, Glamour  

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 Chloe Caldwell: 

“Chloe Caldwell is a force. A quirky writer who shares personal details of her life and describes them in a way that never feels like TMI, it’s the opposite. You want more, the result of a trustworthy narrator and a skilled storyteller.” — Hippocampus Magazine

“Caldwell makes it seem easy to speak with such a lively and intimate voice, but that’s because she’s a masterful writer. It’s her deep and enduring compassion that gives Caldwell’s essays both their literary and their moral backbone.” — Heavy Feather Review

Marketing Information

  • A Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Book of the Year 
  • A Nylon Most Anticipated Book of the Year 
  • A Glamour Most Anticipated Book of the Year
  • The Millions, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year
  • A W Magazine Essential Feminist Read
  • A Bustle Most Anticipated Book of the Month
  • A BuzzFeed Best Book of the Month
  • A Time Best Book of the Month