Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

“Making girls monitor their behavior and their appearance because boys are supposedly unable to control themselves? That is one of the oldest fucking tricks in the book.”

If I had to use one word to describe Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu it would be relevant. Mathieu did a fantastic job bringing hard-hitting topics to light. While reading, I was immediately put back into my 17-year-old body and thrust back into my high school in the middle of cornfields. To say I could relate to Vivian is an understatement. If I taught a Jr. High or High School English class or even an Intro to Women’s Studies course I would make my students read this book.

Put on The Runaways and let’s break this down. 

Now I will admit that Moxie is, clearly, written for a young audience, but even at 24, I was able to enjoy it, so don’t knock it at the beginning. The first chapters are a little slow, setting the scene, introducing characters (including the love interest *17-year-old me swoons*), and showing the reader what messed-up crap is happening at East Rockport High School. I won’t lie, after finishing the first couple chapters, I really thought that this book was going to be too tame to hold my interest. But then, Mathieu pulled me right back in with a swift twist.

Moxie grazes the feminist topics that are on the minds of high school girls. It confronts physical harassment, verbal harassment, favoritism, dress code, rape, racism, white-washing of feminism, anxiety, relationships/sex, equality, even light politics. I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at a fictional educational institution in my life and that’s part of Moxie’s power. ERHS isn’t just a fictional high school, it’s my old high school, my distant cousin on the west coast’s old high school, and a school that every girl can imagine because these are real issues. Jennifer Mathieu’s descriptions of the world of Moxie gave me goosebumps, angry goosebumps at ERHS, but also badass “hell yeah!” goosebumps for the Moxie girls.

Mathieu brings in Joan Jett, The Runaways, Bikini Kill, the Riot Grrl movement, and Kathleen Hanna to show exactly how she feels about systematic sexism.

“Because we don’t want to assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or what isn’t.

Because we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak

Becasue I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will, change the world for real.”  -Bikini Kill 

Moxie makes difficult topics manageable but simultaneously punches you right in the face. This book may not be as spicy as some people may have wanted, but I think it contains the perfect amount of badassery to reach a broad audience and be attractive to girls who need it. Now we get back to my original declaration: Moxie is relevant. I fully believe that everyone needs to read this book at one point or another. The first step to standing up to injustice is being able to recognize injustice around you.

Read this book. See injustice. Get mad. Fight back. Repeat. #moxiegirlsfightback

To see how many stars I gave Moxie or to check out what I’m currently reading, head over to my goodreads profile.

Follow me on Twitter @amberrybooks




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