Published by Roaring Brook Press on September 19th 2017
An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texan high school in the new novel from Jennifer Matheiu, author of The Truth About Alice.MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!
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.
Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!
Trigger warnings for rape/sexual assault
Well, this was a fun, feminist read! Upon finishing it, my first thought was, “man, I wish Moxie had existed when I was in high school.” I wish I could go back in time and give a copy of this book to every girl in my rural-small-town, conservative high school who told me feminism equated to hating men, or that they “believed in equal rights, but didn’t consider themselves feminists.”
Moxie follows our protagonist, Viv, as she, fed up with the casual sexism at her high school and inspired by memorabilia from her mom’s Riot Grrrl days, decides to write and anonymously distribute a feminist zine to all the girls in her high school. This is a girl power story, through and through. It’s about girls standing up for each other and banding together to fight the patriarchy. One thing I appreciated about this story was the fact that Viv actively chose to remain anonymous and not out herself as the creator of Moxie, therefore allowing the movement, the zine, and the ideas contained within to belong to everyone. I loved how girls throughout Viv’s high school got inspired by Moxie and took their own steps to further develop its ideas. Moxie also features a large focus on girl friendship, which I so appreciated. I also did appreciate the way this book addressed that women of color experience oppression in different ways than white women, and brought up the idea of interlocking oppressions. This was an especially important inclusion in Moxie, since probably the biggest criticism of the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90’s is that it did not welcome or include the experiences of women of color.
I will say, I wasn’t completely crazy about the romance. I appreciated the fact that Seth, despite being clueless on some issues, shows a genuine willingness to listen to Vivi when she explains why something he says is problematic. He’s not perfect, but his heart is in the right place. I just personally didn’t care for him as a character, and I didn’t feel like his perspective added a ton to the story besides the “well-intentioned-but-misinformed-male-ally” perspective he granted.
My feminism has certainly progressed since high school, and I recognize that Moxie is by no means a perfect book. I think it could have gone much further in terms of intersectionality, and the POV in this book is that of an allocishet white woman. While, like I mentioned, intersectionality in terms of race was touched on (albeit briefly and not too deeply)… where were the queer women? The trans women? The women with disabilities, or with mental illnesses? This book could have really, really used these perspectives. Without them, I feel like it’s impossible to paint a complete picture of feminism. However, I believe that doesn’t take away from the importance of Moxie as a book. So many of the issues addressed– sexist dress codes and enforcement of these dress codes, school administrators covering up rape allegations against star football players, casual misogynist comments from guys– are issues girls in American high schools face every single day. Because of this, I think Moxie constitutes a great introductory feminist manifesto for young women. Oh, and remember that gross review from Kirkus that accused Moxie of being man-hating and “driving away male allies?” Yeah, I can confirm this is 100% not the case in this book. In fact, the main character takes the time to educate her (well-intentioned) boyfriend as to why she finds some of the things he says re: feminism harmful, damaging, or simply misinformed. I just don’t think Viv explaining to her boyfriend why victim-blaming a rape survivor is wrong = driving away male allies. *side eyes Kirkus*
Overall, I would recommend Moxie to almost anyone. Again, it’s not perfect, but it does something good. It’s a welcome addition to feminist YA lit. I think girls will find themselves in these pages, and I can’t wait for those girls to take some of the ideas in Moxie and run with them. And remember: moxie girls fight back!
Have you read Moxie? If so, what did you think? If not, are you looking forward to its release?