YA Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

moxie.jpgThe Premise: Vivian is becoming quietly sick of the everyday sexism she witnesses at her school. From boys shouting at girls to make them a sandwich to physical harassment and the school’s refusal to do anything about it, enough is enough. Inspired by her mother’s past as a Riot Grrrl, Viv secretly channels her anger into Moxie, a zine dedicated to bringing together the girls of her school.

Thoughts: I knew within a few pages of Moxie that I was going to love it. Mathieu has crafted something really special here: something inspiring, positive and all-too-relatable. You can tell how important the story and subject matter are to the author; there’s such affection in the representation of Viv and the other characters, and I really loved how strong the friendships and support networks of girls are in the book. It made me feel all warm inside.

A couple of genius aspects of Moxie: the book includes the zines themselves, nicely breaking up the narrative and also including the reader in what’s going on. I also love any book book that comes with its own internal soundtrack and, in Moxie, Viv frequently references Riot Grrrl, especially Bikini Kill, and this all makes my heart sing (in a shouty kind of way, obviously). Mathieu has even compiled a playlist which you can find on her Tumblr and I am in love with it.

There was plenty in Moxie that I found very relatable; the emphasis on boys’ sport, for example, and the impetus placed on the girls in the book to dress appropriately to ensure they’re not distracting the boys. I loved the way the girls in Moxie slowly came together to fight the good fight. There’s discussion between Viv and one particular friend about ‘feminism’ as a concept, and Mathieu does a sublime job of highlighting the problems of definition and the misconception that feminism is anything other than a desire for equality. I think this is such an important part of a book like this.

In Conclusion: I’ll be swooning about this book for a very long time and strongly recommending it to people, especially the girls I teach. Moxie made me nod along, tut in recognition and, ultimately, smile for a long time. It’s revolutionary and witty, topical and lovely; I can’t think of a YA book, or book dealing with feminism, I’ve enjoyed so much. It should be essential reading.

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