I’m thrilled to be sharing a review of one of my favorite books of 2017. But first, the synopsis of Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu:
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and 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. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
Easily one of the best young adult books I’ve read this year, Moxie brought me to tears on public transportation – a very high bar. Featuring Vivian Carter, a student who leads a feminist revolution at her conservative Texas high school when she gets fed up with a sexist administration, harassment, and more, this is a book that we so desperately need in 2017. Not only does Moxie show a female student refusing to put up with the sexist BS of high school and doing something about it, it shows her friends – both female and male – being supportive of the movement she starts.
One of my favorite parts of Moxie is how Mathieu represents Vivian’s friendships and relationships with her peers. There’s no cattiness or stereotypical female friendships being portrayed. Viv has friends that are supportive of her no matter what – first when she starts crushing on Seth, and second when they learn that Viv is the person responsible for the Moxie zine. At the same time, we also see reluctance surrounding feminism when one of Viv’s friends doesn’t really understand the point of Moxie or think that anything can change. (Good news, she learns). And when Vivian learns that the school administration isn’t acting on a reported rape, she decides to do something about it, even though she’s already been threatened with severe consequences. That unapologetic nature of standing up for women makes Viv a stand-out character.
In addition, while I love the romantic relationship that develops between Viv and Seth, I really appreciated that it didn’t become an overpowering part of the novel. It adds an element of reality to Viv’s life. I also loved how Viv continued to explain the point of feminism to Seth and didn’t let him get away with saying or doing sexist things, even when it made their relationship uncomfortable for her. Her insistence that he learns to do better, instead of letting it go, is something we don’t see nearly enough in YA.
Moxie depicts a reality that so many people are still denying: school dress codes that favor men, football players being allowed to get away with everything, harassment in the hallways, and school administrators looking the other way when rape is reported – and challenges it head-on. An empowering read, I already can’t wait to gift Moxie to my younger cousins.
Moxie releases tomorrow, September 19, 2017 – I highly recommend picking up a copy of your own. And in case you need more convincing, Amy Poehler’s company has optioned Moxie for film – we hope Moxie makes it to the big screen soon!