MOXIE - by Jennifer Mathieu

MOXIE - Jennifer Mathieu
Published: September 2017 - Roaring Brook Press.
Pages: 330.
Genres: Young adult / contemporary / feminism
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendo / infrequent bad language
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
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 am all for girl power, so I was absolutely stoked to read this book.

The thing is, it's a book that shines a glaring spotlight on the atrocious sexism featured in its story as much as it highlights the need for girls to unite against it. That is the story - that's the point of the book - and that comes through wonderfully. The writing isn't brilliant, the dialogue isn't amazing, but I feel like those things don't actually matter because the feminist theme is so overwhelming and empowering. Mathieu is on point with that.

The whole situation is also, admittedly, perhaps a bit extreme. This school is rampant with sexism, and everything awful a girl can face, she faces. It's extreme for a school - maybe - and Mathieu's going all in, but it works in the end because her points come through clearly. She's making it as bad as it can be because she wants to get across her message of how terrible sexism can be and how important it is for girls to unify to fight against it.

And gosh is it empowering. I'm still shook up by the courage of the girls fighting back and how they handle the horrifying sexist situations and characters. Every fight they fight is relatable, amazingly relevant to present day, and during the story I was literally dying to jump into the book and join the girls in their fight. I am so inspired and empowered by them. The sexism inevitably made me almost hit the roof in fury, but the girls' reactions are so satisfying.

I also love the other points Mathieu makes. She includes intersectional feminism (although I think there could've been more of that) and she highlights the importance of unity - girls supporting girls. Oh people, it's so hard to describe the importance of that message, but it made me feel everything. How much stronger are we if we stand with our sisters, and how can we not? We are living in a man's world, and when women are abused, oppressed, and discriminated against, it's our duty to fight alongside those of our sex and support each other. And it should be something we do naturally, because to fight against sexism, we need to move as one to make a difference.
I love love love how Mathieu hits home with her point of female unity.

It occurs to me that this is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or an equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word. After today it might be my favorite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.
AMEN SISTER ↑↑ And now that I've finished this book, I'm even prouder to call myself a feminist than I was before I started reading.

I'm frustrated with him, but I'm also frustrated with myself. That I can't find the words to explain it to him. I'm totally sure he's not doing it on purpose, but Seth is a guy, and he can't ever know what it feels like to walk down a hallway and know that you're getting judged for the size of your ass or how big your boobs are. He'll never understand what it's like to second guess everything you wear and how you sit and walk and stand in case it doesn't attract the right kind of attention, or worse, attracts the wrong kind. He'll never get how scary and crazy-making it is to feel like you belong to some big Boy Monster that decides it can grab you and touch you and rank you whenever and however it wants.

The characters are fun. I relate so much to Vivian, and I love the characters of Lucy, Kiera, and Claudia. They're all so vivid and inspiring. I also absolutely adore the positive female friendships - they're amazing.
The romance is cute. Seth and Vivian are easy to love, and the struggles in their relationship are perceptive and relevant considering Vivian's feminist stance. I love how Mathieu handles that.

I do wish more guys had joined the girls' side. Seth's the love interest so of course he's there, but the other guys who support the girls are only vaguely referred to and never actually make an appearance. Mathieu makes it clear - and rightly so - that guys can be feminists, but I wish there were more examples of that in this book.
I don't like the subplot following Vivian's mom and her relationship with John. I don't feel like it has much of a point, and I'm torn on whether or not I agree with Vivian's concerns.

Moxie is an entertaining and quirky story with compelling heroines who rock the pages and a message that passionately and intelligently pumps through.
 The empowering point of the need for unity against sexism and female oppression dominates every inch of the story, and that's what you find yourself cheering for. 

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