I was hugely lucky to pick up an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of Moxie at YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention) this year. I am really loving the proliferation of books that feature feminist characters. If you are a fan of Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series you are going to love Moxie.
Vivian Carter is fed up.
Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong.
Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class.
But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s Mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrl in the 90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zone that she distributes anonymously to her classmates.
She’s just blowing off steam, but then other girls respond and begin to spread the Moxie message…
I loved the book so much I reached out to the PR to see if Jennifer would share some Activism tips with us. And huge thanks to Jennifer and Sarah for these tips from Vivian Carter herself.
Viv’s Tips for Activism
Hey, Moxie Girls! I’m so excited to share with you some tips that me and the other Moxie Girls hold dear to our hearts.
1) Support other girls! It sounds so obvious, but so much of being a feminist is supporting other women in a world that pits us against each other all the time. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t criticize other girls for justifiable reasons, but catch yourself when you feel the urge to make fun of another girl’s hair, clothes, weight, hobbies, or interests. Making fun of other girls because of their appearance or what they like to do is so not Moxie.
2) Be inclusive! Before Moxie, girls at East Rockport High didn’t really mix outside of their cliques. But feminism has to be intersectional and, thanks to Moxie, the girls of ERH are getting to know each other better. It’s so awesome! Being a feminist means voices of girls of color, girls with disabilities, queer girls and trans girls should be recognized and amplified! Make sure all girls feel welcome at your meet ups and, if you’re an activist, look to the voices of girls from other communities and listen to what they have to say. You’ll learn so much.
3) Educate yourself! The women’s movement didn’t start yesterday – it stretches back decades and centuries. Read your women’s history and learn about the movement’s successes, challenges, and missteps. If you’re in university, take a women’s studies class. I can’t wait to take one when I get to college! An educated feminist is a powerful feminist.
4) Reach out into your community! It’s great to start local, but take your activism outside the walls of your school if you can. In America, we have a real issue with shelters not having enough feminine hygiene products for female clients, so the Moxie Girls want to start collecting supplies for our local shelters. Is there a progressive female candidate running for office that needs your help or younger girls who need tutors or mentors? Is there a women’s organization in your area that you can learn more about? Go for it!
5) Have fun! Activism has to be fun! The first big Moxie meet up that Kiera organized at the VFW Hall helped solidify Moxie into a real movement at our school. Get together and dance, watch a feminist-friendly film, do each other’s makeup, and eat chocolate! Part of being a feminist activist is just enjoying the company of other girls and reminding yourself of what you’re fighting for!
Bonus Tip for male allies from Seth!
Hey, it’s me, Viv’s boyfriend, Seth. I wanted to chime in and say that feminists need male allies, and I’m proud to be one. What does it mean to be a male ally? It means listening to the feminists in your life and not taking the limelight. It means believing girls when they tell you what they’re going through and what they’re feeling. And it really means speaking up when your fellow guys start saying and doing stuff that objectifies and degrades women and girls. It’s hard to stand up and speak out – I get it – but it takes guts and it’s the brave thing to do. Forget the crap in the culture that tells you that “real men” are only out to get laid, get drunk, and be violent. Real men are protectors and defenders and stand up for what’s right. You’ve got this.
What I Thought
This was such a good book. It was a fun and quick read with some serious messages. Viv is such a great protagonist, she’s perhaps not your typical activist. On the surface she’s very quiet and perhaps the last person people would expect to stand up and shout. It’s the small drop in the water that creates the large ripples
There are so many parallels with what is happening in the news on a daily basis. Over the last week the #metoo campaign in response to insidious sexism in Hollywood has shown the power of women raising their voices.
The book includes the issues of Moxie that Viv produces and that adds an extra special touch that draws the reader into the story. Each issue encourages an action. A quiet protest such as writing hearts and stars on your hands to identify others like you (or you know bending the knee peacefully??!!).
Point 3 above is illustrated in the book through the inclusion of Viv’s Mum previous activism. Hopefully we can start to share these ideas with our children and encourage them to respectfully question.
I particularly love the inclusion of the character of Seth, the male feminist, the ally. As well as following women’s metoo stories do check out the few men who are examining their own past behaviour too.
Tying in to Viv’s tip no 5 about having fun I just want to do a shout out to the concept of Craftivism: the art of gentle protest. If you want to find out more check out this link.
Also check out the hashtag #feministfriday on Instagram today.
Thanks so much to Hachette Childrens for having ARCs of Moxie availabile at YALC.
You can buy your own copy from Amazon or your favourite independent bookshop.
Back on the 22nd July I was lucky enough to interview Zen Cho at Waterstones CastlePoint. Freakily enough what book turned up from The Willoughby Book Club at the beginning of July? This gorgeous Black and Gold Edition of the Book.
The Moonlight Dreamers and its sequel Tell it to the Moon follow four girls: Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose on their quest to follow their dreams and find themselves. I really enjoyed these tales of friendship and, for me, they were reminiscent of films I love such as Now and Then, and Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Many friendship stories follow girls who grow up together, or go to school together but it was refreshing to see that there is friendship outside these confines. These were both really charming and enjoyable stories and perfect reads for feel good vibes.
I have been lucky enough to interview author Siobhan Curham and her four characters to find out a little more about how the Dreamers came about and where they are shooting for next.
How did you come up with The Moonlight Dreamers Club?
I was really tired of being picked on by the numbskulls in school for being different. Just because I have two dads, who happen to be gay, and just because I like to dress in vintage men’s clothes, it doesn’t mean I deserve to be picked on. I don’t understand why being different is seen as such a bad thing. Being the same as everyone else is so boring. I came up with the idea for starting a secret society called The Moonlight Dreamers because I wanted to meet other people who didn’t want to fit in; other people who craved excitement and adventure. And I was inspired to do so by my hero, Oscar Wilde.
Why do you like Oscar Wilde so much?
Because he was proud of being different. He came out at a time when it was really hard to be openly gay – he even went to jail because of his sexuality. He lived life on his terms and he was a great writer. I have a collection of his quotes that I always use for inspiration. It’s impossible to pick a favourite one, but one of my favourites is this: ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’
How are belonging to The Moonlight Dreamers and belonging to a religion comparable and different?
Being a Moonlight Dreamer and being Hindu both make me feel happier and more secure in myself and my life. Both of them bring me loads of joy. They’re different in that my faith feels like a more personal thing, something I often do on my own – either meditating or praying to my favourite goddesses. And the Moonlight Dreamers is a more of a social thing – and usually way more noisy – especially when Rose gets going! I feel so blessed that I’ve been given such awesome friends.
Why is the idea of finding a soulmate so important to you?
I’ve always been a true romantic. Even when I was a little girl, I loved making up stories in my head about marrying a prince and living happily ever after. I love the idea that everyone has a soul mate out there waiting to be found by them. The trouble is, when I feel like I’ve found mine I turn into a jabbering wreck! I wish I could be as confident as Rose or Sky – or just not care about love, like Amber. But sadly, I’m a stumbling, stammering disaster area when it comes to boys I like! I say and do the most embarrassing things. I’m starting to worry that even if I did meet my soulmate I’d make him run away – or die laughing … and not in a good way!
If you ever imagined having a sister what would she have been like?
After my mum died, I really wished I had a sister – or brother – who knew exactly what I was going through and could share the pain. Whenever I imagined having a sister I’d imagine someone quite like me – like, into poetry and nature and travelling and stuff. But then I got Rose as a step-sister and that blew all my imaginings out of the water. When I first met Rose I hated her so much I was really glad I’d been born an only child! It’s so funny now, thinking of how much I hated her back then. Now I’m a Moonlight Dreamer it feels like I’ve got three sisters – and I wouldn’t change them for anything.
What did you really think when you saw the invite to The Moonlight Dreamers Club?
I was a little bit weirded out by it but thankfully I was so intrigued I replied anyway. And I really liked the look of the girl in the vintage store who put the invite in my bag. She really intrigued me. It’s so weird thinking that she’s now one of my best friends! That was a really important lesson for me – that if something seems weird or scary but it makes you a bit excited too, you should go for it. My life has changed so much for the better since replying to that invite.
If you ever imagined having a sister what would she have been like?
I have three sisters. My Moonlight Dreamers are my soul sisters – the best kind of sisters. The kind you’d tell anything to and even lay down your life for. And I’d lay down my life for all of them, no question – even though Sky’s been pissing me off a bit lately, since she’s found true lurrrve.
What does The Moonlight Dreamers club mean to you?
Everything. My girls keep me sane – something my parents on their Planet Celebrity, definitely do not!
How did you come up with The Moonlight Dreamers?
I love encouraging young people to believe in themselves and their dreams as this was something I really struggled with when I was a teen. I gave up on my writing dream and dropped out of uni because – coming from a poor family on a council estate – I didn’t think I had what it took to make it in the middle class world of writing. Thankfully, I found the confidence to overcome my doubts and fears and now I want to stop other people from making the mistakes I did. I created the Moonlight Dreamers because I wanted to show how hard it can be to navigate your journey into adulthood but, with the help of friends, a hero like Oscar Wilde and some self belief, anything is possible. In the second book, Tell it to the Moon, I really put the characters to the test because it was equally important for me to show how sometimes dreams don’t come true – but if you keep the faith, something even better might happen. This is exactly how it’s been for me in my life. Disappointments, difficulties and unachieved dreams have always led to bigger and better things.
What’s more important – Dreams or Belonging?
What a great question! Would it be cheating to say, they’re both equally important? It’s so important to have a sense of belonging – in your own skin and in the world – but sometimes, when that’s missing, a dream can be what saves you and ultimately leads to that feeling of belonging. I think maybe they go hand in hand.
What’s next for the girls?
I would love to write a final book about them when they’re seventeen / eighteen. I’ve loosely sketched the idea out in my mind – Amber on an Oscar Wilde inspired gap year, Sky going off to uni, Maali in her final year at school and still, no doubt, searching for her soul mate, Rose blazing an entrepreneurial trail and causing a riot somewhere. It would be great to see the Moonlight Dreamers start to make their way out into the world as adults. I’m also considering writing a screen adaptation because so many readers have told me that they’d love to see it filmed … and offering to help with the casting! I’d love that too – it would be a dream come true.
Huge thanks to Siobhan and the Dreamers. Count me in the ‘would love to see the books filmed’ camp too. Thanks to Katarina from Walker for sending me Tell it to the Moon (which publishes this month). Moonlight Dreamers had already called to me and was already on my TBR pile. Opinions are, as ever, my own. Have you read the books? Tell me what you think?