Monday, February 12, 2018

Book Review: 'Moxie' by Jennifer Mathieu

Title:  Moxie (Official, Macmillan Publishers, Amazon, Google Play, Goodreads)
Author:  Jennifer Mathieu (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, BlogGoodreads)

Moxie takes place in the small Texas town of East Rockport.  Vivian Carter is a junior at East Rockport High and is fed up.  Fed up with the blatant, and apparently staff approved, misogyny and double-standards that seem to dominate those hallowed halls, Vivian takes inspiration from her mother's "misspent youth" and starts a movement.  See, Viv's mom was a Riot Grrrl and thanks to a box of memories filled with pictures, fliers, and zines and the frantic sounds of Bikini Kill, she decides that the only way to make a change is to do it herself and thus Moxie is born. 

Jennifer Mathieu's latest book Moxie is not only a great piece of social commentary but an excellent story.  Following the trials of a normal girl just trying to get through the ridiculous bullshit of a small-town high school is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring.  This story also touches me in a couple of different ways.  First off there's the fact that I'm a parent with kids in high school who was heavily involved in punk rock in high school (and still to this day).  Second is the fact that a major part of this story deals with Moxie itself.  Moxie is a zine (I love the fact that pretty much everyone at the school calls it a newsletter because let's be honest, who born after 1999 is going to know what a zine is, other than Vivian whose mom is awesome).  Vivian creates an honest to god, cut and paste (old school style not the right-click, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V action) zine in her bedroom, making photocopies of it at the local copy shop!  That is some stuff straight out of 1994 and I love it!  Why?  Because back in the late '90s, I produced a zine called Caught Off Guard (which you can read more about here) so needless to say, I loved this.  But beyond all of that, this is an excellent, at times frustrating, and ultimately moving story.  I happen to work in a smaller town in Oklahoma, so the situations and places that Mathieu describes in Moxie ring so very and sadly true. 

While there's been some criticism of the book for being too overtly feminist and others for being too white and straight, I see it as a story that speaks pretty clearly to its environment and the background of the author (speaking of, I was already a fan by the end of the book but then Mathieu referred to Sassy magazine in the Notes from the Author sections and it was all over).  In this day and age, you simply can't please everyone.  You make something or take a stand and you open yourself up to all sorts of criticism from every imaginable side.  Some will scream that you've gone too far while others yell that you haven't gone far enough.  The way I see it, if you're making that many people, from all of those different sides, angry then you're probably doing something right.  And Moxie isn't just right, it's excellent. 


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