MOXIE Girls Fight Back!

Lynn: High-school junior Vivian Carter has always loved looking in the battered shoebox labeled “My Misspent Youth” on her mother’s shelf. These days, Vivian’s mom is a widowed, hard-working urgent care nurse. But back in the day, Viv’s mom was a punk rock-loving, feminist zine-creating Riot Grrl, and that box is full of mementos of that time. But, as Viv’s grandmother notes, the “rebellious gene” certainly seems to have bypassed “our dutiful Vivian.”

Jennifer Mathieu’s terrific Moxie (2017) is set in the small town of East Port, Texas, where Vivian and her friends are just keeping their heads down, biding their time until they can graduate. The misogynistic football-worshiping culture of her high school has always been annoying, but when Viv witnesses a new girl being humiliated in class, she realized just how appalling the situation is. Viv’s latent rebellious gene kicks tentatively to life. Adopting her her mom’s Riot Grrl roots, she creates an anonymous zine calling out sexist behavior. Viv’s issue creates a stir, then dies down, making her realize that real change is going to take more than just one girl and one zine.

One of the elements I appreciate the most about this book is that Viv is no instant superwoman; she has to learn to be brave. Bravery is neither easy or nor without setbacks, and Vivian’s growth seems all the more authentic because of this. For each step forward, she takes several steps back, and Viv’s internal dialog is an important part of the story.

The picture of sisterhood is inspiring, and Viv’s sweet romance with Seth does nicely to reassure readers that not all guys are sexist jerks. Matthieu provides some welcome resources at the end of her satisfying and inspiring book. This is a story that made me cheer and readers may all take up the Moxie battle cry—Moxie Girls Fight Back!

For more on Moxie, check out Maggie Reagan’s post about addressing feminist issues in YA lit.




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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