Note: This review contains spoilers from Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Whew, deep breath. Dry my eyes and gather my thoughts. Man, this book is an experience and a half, and an emotional one at that. I literally just finished reading Moxie and I’m not really sure what to do with myself. My brain is reeling, my heart is kind of soaring and I might burst out crying again at a moments notice. Is there a better state to be in to write a book review? I don’t know, but we’re going to try and tackle this one now anyway!
Right. First observation. This is a really great book and I love it. Second observation. There was one tiny thing I wasn’t that fond of in this book, so I will deal with it now so that we can be done with it and move on. So my issue is with Seth and the romance between him and Vivian. Now I understand and appreciate the reasons why Seth’s in there, it’s a great way to deal with the ‘not all men’ phenomenon and educating men and showing that men can and should be feminists too. I get all that. For me personally, though, there was just a lot about their relationship that I didn’t feel needed to be in there. Plus, this book was so original and empowering and amazing, that Viv’s crush on Seth and their subsequent relationship felt a little cliche. There is a part of the novel where Viv and Seth crash into each other in the hall causing Viv to drop her Moxie ‘zines (not newsletters guys!). Viv points out that it was ‘like something out of a bad rom com’. Yes, it was like something from a cheesy rom com and for me (pet peeve coming up here) just because a narrative is self aware about it being cliche, doesn’t make it not cliche! I didn’t hate the romance, I just felt a bit meh towards it. Another reason I think I didn’t enjoy the romance so much was because I just didn’t expect it to be so prevalent in the plot. It wasn’t mentioned in the blurb of the edition I have at all so when it popped up I was a little like, oh, okay then, this is happening is it?
Right. Onward and upward. Aside from the romance this book was pretty stunning. To be honest, I don’t really have the words so this review might turn into a bit of a rambly mess! Anyway, the unity of girls in this novel is so beautiful and I think one of the things I really loved was how some of my most hated YA tropes were subverted. Two of my least favourite things in YA fiction are girl on girl hate and the popular bitchy girl and both of these are dealt with in this novel. In terms of girl on girl hate, the relationship between Claudia and Lucy is set up almost like it’s going to fall into this trap but it never actually does and they end up being great friends with Viv and with each other. Second was Emma, who again was set up as the blonde, lead cheerleader who would normally be a bitchy character but she wasn’t in the end, she joined with everyone else and stood up for herself and her fellow girls even when she was hurt and upset. She was another brave and strong lady in a book full of them. The pinnacle of the unity was of course the walk out, and quite honestly I cried buckets at this section of the novel. When Viv is describing all of the girls walking out of the classrooms together, when she mentions that you could hear ‘our heartbeat’ made me not only rejoice for the girls in the novel for taking a stand, but it made me feel like one of them, like I was out there with them. It was amazing, and I know it will be something that sticks with me for a long time to come.
Another thing I loved about this novel was how it dealt with misconceptions associated with the word feminism. Through the character of Claudia we see how society has made the words ‘feminist’ and ‘feminism’ into a scary and confusing term, when at it’s base level it is really simple. Like Viv says ‘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.’ From now on, if anyone asks me what feminism means I will be directing them to this book and this quote in particular. Even with it’s emphasis on feminism though, the novel was quick to point out it’s not a perfect movement or concept as it can and does struggle with inclusion in terms of colour and sexuality and gender and I think this was really important too. It made sure the novel didn’t seem completely idealist and fantastical. There is still work to be done, but as the novel showed, it’s work that can be done.
So there we have it, my initial thoughts on Moxie. I could say a lot more about this book but at the moment my brain is still really taking it all in. I just wanted to share right away how much this book has meant to me. Even with the romance that I wasn’t fond of it’s one of the best books I have read recently, it is important, and I would 100% recommend that you go out and read it if you haven’t already.
Have you read Moxie and what did you think of it?
As always, happy reading!
Our voices are so loud. So big. So much. So beautiful.
– Jennifer Mathieu –