Book Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

33163378Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution

I should start this off by saying everyone has different experiences, and my experiences are not representative of anyone else’s nor do I expect them to be.

Moxie was a really interesting read, especially because it’s different from what I have experienced as a high school student. It also felt like a good template of how kids can take action and create change in their own communities. Because, of course, these things do happen. Steubenville wasn’t so long ago. There were several moments that made me want to pump my fist in the air and start a revolution of my own. I also liked the way that Vivian was shown coming out of her shell and found her pretty relatable.

All the same, I did sometimes feel like Moxie felt more like a lecture than a novel, and even saying that I feel bad because a lot of the stuff that was discussed is really important and I don’t want to suggest that intersectionality and fighting slut-shaming and the importance of shooting down the not-all-men rhetoric aren’t important because they are but I’m sorry, at times it felt really heavy-handed. And I know that in real life, people have awkward discussions with guys in their lives about why it’s really f*cking annoying when they just keep on coming back with but I’m not like those guysbecause it’s so annoying and is completely missing the point of the discussion. (We’ve all been there.) But I just sometimes felt that it wasn’t integrated as well as I’ve seen it in other books and…

I just feel SO BAD CRITICIZING THIS BOOK.

But there are a lot of strengths too! It was really interesting for me to read about a small town in the rural US because it’s so removed from my experience (big high school in a Canadian city with zero dress code). The way that everyone let the football team get away with stuff was really annoying although I had an issue here with being able to relate to that, but that’s literally just because of my experience and not because of the validity of the narrative.

I also really liked Vivian’s journey! She and her friends grew so much over the course of the book, and every point where she went up against someone who told her to maybe just calm down a little really struck a chord with me. Jennifer Mathieu did a really good job of capturing that mix of triumph and anger that comes with pushing back against sexism that, from what I read in the book, was really central to the Riot Grrrl movement, which was a really interesting movement to learn about.

Moxie was really entertaining, the characters were great, and I think it’s a good book – I know I enjoyed it. I just think I might not be the best person to review it and someone who had a more similar high school experience might get more out of it than me.

Verdict: read it or skip it, it’s up to you

Have you ever done anything to fight back against sexism? Is there anything you want to rant about in the comments? Have you read Moxie? What did you think? Did you relate to the circumstances?

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