Review Blog

Oct 30 2017

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

cover image

Hachette, 2017. ISBN 9781444940633
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. What a wonderful book for young women - one that validates being a woman, takes joy in women's friendships and speaks strongly of a woman's capacity to thrive in the modern world.
Jennifer Mathieu has written a story that outlines how girls are treated as second class to boys in a modern west coast United States high school. This is a story about bravery in the face of mistreatment, of girls facing daily damning condemnation and feelings of isolation. Here we have a young woman in high school who is exasperated by the constant denigration the girls receive from the boys, and sick of the licence their society allows boys to consider themselves superior to girls. This licence, supported by the school, that will do nothing to redress the hierarchical structure of boys as heroic, high-achieving sport stars, seems to give them the right to verbally abuse girls, to demand favours from girls and to make offensive and derogatory sexual innuendos in class, in the schoolyard and in the outside world.
Yet this is modern America and we would think that this couldn't happen. But it does, Poehler clearly tells us, and Vivian is absolutely fed up with the constant abuse, verbal slights, and denigration of girls. So she makes a 'moxie', paper slips of words and images spread throughout the school, and the outcome is explosive. We are so drawn in to her anger that we can't help but hope that she can sustain the rage and build it in the other girls, and stay safe. Good men are in evidence, and decent boys, so this is not a man-hating novel.
What a wonderful achievement for Mathieu, in composing a well-written modern novel that faces reality, that depicts adolescence as school teachers know what it is like, and fearlessly tackles that which is not only unrecognised, but ignored. Highly recommended for high school students of all year levels, and particularly of interest in its informative capacity for parents and school teachers. Brilliant!
Liz Bondar

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