The Independent

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: a feminist anthem for young readers

Robert Kukla, Arts & Life Editor

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Moxie tells the story of Vivian, a high school sophomore, who is tired of the sexist behavior from her high school’s  football team and the school officials turning a blind eye. Inspired by her mother’s punk rock days, Vivian decides to take a stand and begins distributing zines anonymously as a call to action. Eventually, the zines take off and with the help of a rising number of female classmates who are also tired of the sexism, develop a powerful resistance against the school’s toxic masculinity.

Mathieu’s writing is powerful throughout this novel. With every sentence, the reader is left with wanting to throw their fist in the air and stand in solidarity with Vivian and the other female classmates in her school.

She does an excellent job of portraying how sexist high school can be and how, in many cases, the school officials blame female students for the bad behavior of boys. There were so many moments where Mitchel, the main male antagonist, would do something that infuriated the reader; that anger is further fueled by the lack of action from the school administrators. For example, in one scene, Mitchel attempts to rape Vivian’s best friend Claudia. When Claudia reports the event to the principal, he tells Claudia that perhaps she should take the advance as a compliment and think about it over spring break. The novel is filled with several moments like this and each time, you as a reader develop an alliance with the girls taking a stand.

One thing that was unexpected was the subplot involving a relationship between Vivian and Seth Acosta, a transfer student at the high school. The relationship feels authentic and leaves you swooning over their budding romance.

Furthermore, Seth becomes educated and develops  a stronger feminist identity himself.By doing so, Mathieu shows readers that young boys can also be feminists and stand in solidarity against the mistreatment of women.

The character development Vivian goes through by the end of the book is one of tremendous craftsmanship that Mathieu exemplifies as a great writer. We see Vivian struggle with finding her voice and the courage to speak out publicly outside of her zines. With the help of her classmates, she finally comes forward and demands a change; in doing so, she causes a feminist revolution that is much needed in her environment.

Overall, Moxie will leave you passionate about feminism. The novel sends a great message to young female readers, which is to fight for your rights and to not tolerate any gendered mistreatment. It is an anthem that will leave you wanting to join the Moxie resistance along with Vivian and her classmates.

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Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: a feminist anthem for young readers