Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Posted January 17, 2019 by Amber in Reviews / 10 Comments

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu


Published by Roaring Brook Press on September 19, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Feminism, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 330 pages Source: Amazon

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Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so 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. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

I wish I had this book when I was 13.  My dad, totally ignorant, used to tell me that my responses were emotional because I was a girl and discount me completely.  I wish I had this book when I was 18.  On my 18th birthday, my boyfriend-of-the-time drove 400 miles to surprise me at college, and when I went to the hotel to spend the night with him, he expected sex.  I was sick as a god that weekend and I didn’t want to, but when he explained to me all that he had sacrificed to be here for me on my special day, I felt guilty and gave in. And cried all the way through; cried myself to sleep.  And you know what else?  I needed this book LAST January when my sexist boss would yell across the room at the strong-willed women in our department to belittle them in front of the team.

Our world is seriously messed up.  I don’t even have it bad.  My dad’s a little smarter now, I dumped the hell out of that horrible ex-boyfriend and married a wonderful guy (who’s a feminist too!) and my boss got fired.  So there’s been a little justice in my world.  But that’s not true for everyone.  Places like the one Jennifer Mathieu shows in Moxie REALLY DO EXIST.  Whether it’s a school run by a sexist asshole, or a home where the mothers and daughters are told to go to the kitchen, or even someone catcalling on the street – our world needs to change.

Moxie is a small slice of truth in a world that desperately needs it.

Okay, so if this isn’t already clear, I LOVED this book.  I smiled, I cried, and I raged.  So much of me wanted to believe that the school was just an extreme example, and I had to check myself because no.  That’s part of the problem, you know?  You have to look at these issues head on and not try to justify them.

Vivian is a good girl – so much so that her mom and grandparents tease her about the mere suggestion that she’d ever be a troublesome girl.  But she has a fire in her soul and she is SICK and TIRED of the way the football team gets to wear lewd t-shirts and how the girls are interrupted in class and the sexist dress code checks and groping in the halls.  And she should be.  Jennifer Mathieu did a really good job of addressing  different sexist problems.  For example:

  • Shaming women for “tempting” men by dressing a certain way.
  • Inappropriate physical contact.
  • Perpetuating sexist roles.
  • Stereotyping all men as evil.
  • Justifying inappropriate actions.

On top of all that, she also addresses how difficult it is to protest something when you feel like it’s never going to change, or you’re going to get in trouble for it.  And I really enjoyed the rotating conversation around Vivian’s relationship with Seth.  I appreciated how he wanted to support her but struggled to see things through her eyes, and she would get mad at him, but then had to step back and check herself because she needed to educate him, not blame him.  Many people are willing to change, but are blind to the severity of the problem.

I love the girl friendships in this book and how different Viv and Lucy’s relationship was vs. Viv and Claudia’s.  I loved the way both relationships changed and grew.  If this book didn’t have strong, supportive female friendships, then I think half the message would have fallen flat.  Even the looser friendships, like Kiera and Emma.  It was good, y’all.  It was so, so good.

And I loved how ultimately cool and supportive Vivian’s mom was.  There are too few YA books with full parents support, especially mothers supporting daughters.

I just can’t get over how much I loved this one.  Truly loved it and DEVOURED it.  It’s a good reminder of the unity women can have, no matter their age or where they live, or their sexual orientation, or their race.  I know it’s YA and there are plenty of Grown Up Books About Feminism, but I genuinely think this one should be read anyway.

I really want to get it for my friends’ daughter, because she’s such a cool kid, but she’s only ten-ish and there’s some themes that probably aren’t age appropriate for her right now.  So her mom might kill me.  BUT WHEN SHE IS OLDER.  I am buying her this book.

The Breakdown
Personal Enjoyment
Overall: five-stars

Moxie stays on the shelf.

This isn’t even a question.  I love this book with all of my everything and will read it again.  It sets my angry soul ablaze.


Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Are you involved in any social issues?

What was the last book that made you want to fight the world?

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10 responses to “Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

    • Amber

      You know, I haven’t? I think I must have added all her books to my TBR after finishing this one, though, so I will read it for sure!

  1. Oh, my goodness! This sounds so good! I just added it to my TBR, though I daresay it’ll take me a bit to get to it… I think it will be a nice read for the second semester, especially with the problems with the sexist dress code at my school (well, this happened earlier in the year: there was a protest directly against my principle to change the dress code which was targeting women/girls). I feel like this is a really relevant story to me because I am always seen as the “good girl” and only my really close friends know that there’s a rebellious and slightly dark side to me. Not to say that I’m not an activist or feminist! (I’m actually wearing a feminist shirt right now as I type this!) I can NOT wait to read this!

    • Amber

      It’s such a good book. I really hope you like it. And, ugh, I”m so sorry to hear about your school’s dress code! I think that the dress code is a problem in a lot of high schools country wide… but things are changing! I hope your school gets its act together. Moxie girls fight back!

  2. Yessss I loved this book!! It was so powerful and important! I will say it wasn’t my *absolute* favourite, but that’s only because I spent the entire book comparing it to The Nowhere Girls, which was very very similar, and I liked even better, but I think if I hadn’t been comparing it to something else I would have loved this even more. (I still loved this one and rated it highly though!)

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    • Amber

      I guess it’s good for me that I heaven’t read The Nowhere Girls yet! Though it’s definitely on my TBR and I’m really looking forward to it!

    • Amber

      This book was SO. WOKE. It’s very empowering. Aaaand yeah my boss was the worst sort of person. Karma always comes back around though, so, thankfully it worked out for my coworkers and I. I feel for all the people who haven’t been as lucky. Hopefully the world will change, but I think we all will have to fight for that to happen.

  3. Ema

    I loveed Moxie! It is such an important story, but I also liked the way it was told. It’s very fast paced and goes straight to the point which I enjoyed. It was a great read for my feminist soul as watching Vivian and the girls fight back was everything!
    And I totally agree, Vivian’s mum is so cool. We need more of those kinds of parents in YA.

    • Amber

      I think being straight to the point was really important for a book like this, and makes it that much more powerful. I am so glad to hear that you loved it.