Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
June 29, 2017
Roaring Book Press
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “It said girls are a revolutionary soul force that can change the world for real.”
Vivian Carter is DONE. A junior at a small Texas high school where football is worshipped as a religion, Viv is tired of the misogyny in the school with the constant harassment, sexist dress code, and the football players getting away with murder. Her mom, a former Riot Grrrrl of the 90’s, inadvertently encourages Viv to do something to change the toxic environment.This former nice girl who has never rocked the boat tips it over when she starts an anonymous ‘zine, encouraging everyone to stand up for their rights. Soon everyone is talking about Moxie and celebrating its words of encouragement and sisterhood, but when the time comes for the Moxie girls to stand behind a sister in need, Viv will have to make a choice that could destroy her future.
The Truth About Alice was my first time reading Jennifer Mathieu. I was captivated by her choice of narrative and characterization. She has a gift for YA; an ability to connect and vocalize with that age and the issues that affect them. Moxie is written differently, instead of a multitude of POVs, there is only one-Vivian Carter. It’s solid plot line and fierce humorous dialogue instantly hooked me. Mathieu does a wonderful job of maintaining a realistic setting and tone throughout the story. Vivian brings to life the raging emotions and the intensity of life in general that is readily apparent in this age group. High school is such a traumatic, confusing time of life to begin with but having to deal with a sexually toxic atmosphere only makes it worse.
Vivian was such a fun character to get to know. Intelligent, clever, and snarky; Vivian has a strong sense of self that slowly blossoms throughout the book. I love that she isn’t an instant crusader and pokes at herself in a self-deprecating manner that is funny and endearing. A well known ‘good girl’ she finds herself entering the unknown zone when she sees a fellow student cowered into silence by an abusive football player, the disgustingly sexist t-shirts, the lack of funding for everything BUT the football department, and the invasive dress code. She questions how trying to rally the female population will affect her and those around her. Will she be mocked and harassed? Will she lose friends? Will she get in trouble? Will anyone even care?
Viv takes a stand and begins Moxie Girl, spreading her voice and feminism through the school. Slowly but surely she develops a following and finds a group of friends that cross all social, economic and yes, popularity lines. Vivian discovers that she is stronger then she knew and that she isn’t the only one who finds the high school’s actions disgusting and problematic.
A personable plethora of secondary characters adds energy and validation to the story. Lucy is a strong personality whose own radical leanings addresses the underlying racism. Seth, her boyfriend, is a sweet boy who seems to support Vivian but is forced to confront his own misogynistic attitude when he and Vivian have a falling out. Viv’s mom is an unknowing participant in Viv’s rebellion as she begins to bring about changes in her own life while Viv’s grandparents provide unconstitutional support and love-long with a weird love of Stouffer’s frozen meals. lol
Mathieu ushers the ending in by forcing Viv to make a hard choice after two friends are harassed due to their choices. Mathieu allows Viv to deal with it in her own way, hoping that she will choose the right path for herself.
Moxie was a wonderful read that will appeal to all ages who embraces individuality and girl power while pushing for equality and freedom in a multitude of issues that plague us all these days. Accented with dashes drama, humor, and romance, Mathieu once again writes an entertaining winner.
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