Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu, Roaring Brook Press, 9781626726352, 2017
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review): 4
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
What did you like about the book? Vivian is a high school junior in small-town Texas. She keeps her head down, does her work, and focuses on graduating and getting out. Motivated by her mom’s past as a punk rock Riot Grrrl rebel, she finds she can no longer ignore the institutionalized sexism in her town and school. She secretly creates and distributes her Moxie zine in the hopes that some other girls in her community are also sick of having their accomplishments sidelined, being ignored in class, and being mauled in the hallways. Worried that she may be alone, she soon finds that the Moxie concept provides the courage and solidarity the East Rockport High girls (and some boys) have needed in order to come together and make some positive changes.
Vivian is a completely believable and likable character. She has no superpowers – Any young reader could identify with her and see herself taking up the reins and making something happen in her own community. It is also terrific that Mathieu doesn’t stereotype the girls or the boys. There are beautiful feminists and decent football dudes and the Moxie movement has room for everyone, regardless of clique. The emphasis is on working together.
This is a book that got better and better as the pages turned. I just wanted to keep reading. It was a pleasure to watch these young characters figure themselves out and take action.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Mathieu loves Bikini Kill! There are so many great bands of the Riot Grrrl era. Teens reading this book will get that Kathleen Hanna was (is!) badass, but the dropping of this one name became repetitive. The story would have benefitted from a broader spectrum of musical influences.
To whom would you recommend this book? High school students
Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? YA
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Given that sexual assault is all over the news these days, yes. This is a book that could empower young women to speak out if they have been hurt or have witnessed someone else being hurt.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA
Date of review: 11 December 2017