Blog Archives

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu – Activism Tips and Book Review 


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. 

Synopsis 

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??!!). 


I’d love have to been more of an activist when I was a teen and it’s so good that teens of today have books like these to inspire them. 

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. 

Advertisements

More Than One Way to Be a Girl by Dyan Sheldon – character and author interview

Synopsis 

“Face it, Zizi. You’d be lost without your make-up and your girly clothes.” 

“And you think ‘feminine’ is a dirty word. You’re the one who’s never going to change, Loretta.”

“You want to bet?”

When Loretta and her best friend Zizi make a life-changing bet, one thing’a for sure: the summer is about to be turned upside down. 

Character Interviews 

 

Before you two were friends how would you have defined feminism?

 

Loretta: I would have defined it like this: Feminism is self-defense.

 

ZiZi: You see what I mean about Loretta, right? Everything gets exaggerated! How I would’ve defined it is: Wannabe guys with a limited sense of humour and not a lot of patience.

 

Describe your style.

 

Loretta: Immune to the pressures of a fashion industry that wants you to buy something new every week so it can make more money. And immune to the pressures of a society that thinks it has the right to tell you how to dress. Utilitarian and comfortable, but with colourful socks.

 

ZiZi: Fashionable and feminine, but (now) with practical shoes. When I look in the mirror I want to smile.

 

What do you admire most about the other?

 

Loretta: ZiZi’s unique. She may look like Miss Congeniality, but she’s opinionated, stubborn and for definite has a mind of her own. And she makes me laugh.

 

ZiZi: With Loretta, what you see is pretty much what you get. And what you get’s a real friend. Plus she has a great sense of humour, and if you get a flat tyre on a lonely road, she’s the girl you want next to you.

 

What do you think would be the hardest part of being a boy?

 

Loretta: In some ways, there are as many restrictions on guys as there are on girls – they’re just different restrictions. All that competition and pressure to Be a Man. And, as ZiZi would say, you can’t even go shopping or put on your favourite dress and those outrageous earrings to cheer yourself up.  

 

ZiZi: Having to wear boring clothes. Plus having to be tough and strong when really all you want to do is going under the duvet and cry.


Author Interview 

Are you more like Loretta or ZiZi? In what ways?

 

I’m probably more like Loretta. I often have the impression when a contentious topic comes up and I clear my throat that my friends are all wishing I wouldn’t say anything.

 

Describe your writing style.

 

That’s a question I’ve never been asked before. But, judging from editor and copy-editor comments I’ve had over the years, I’d say it’s idiosyncratic.

 

How many ways of being a girl do you have?

 

I don’t do the stilettos or the makeup, but otherwise I think I cover the range. I own both a food processor and a drill.


What I thought? 

This was such a fun read and I loved the characters of Loretta and Zizi and especially their friendship.

I found this a really accessible way to look at gender and feminist issues through the set up of a bet. 

More Than One Way to Be a Girl takes a slightly lighter hearted view of similar themes to that in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series and is perfect for the 13+ age group it’s aimed at. Relationships with boys feature, and believe me I shared Loretta’s annoyance when her relationship with her colleagues changed. 

MTOWTBAG is out now. 

I also had fun recreating the cover for #bookstagram, and below is a picture of me after checking my tyre pressures. Let’s just hope I never manage to put oil in the brake fluid ever again?! *disclaimer – this happened a long time ago. 


Huge thanks to Dyan for answering the questions and channelling Loretta and Zizi again and to Kirsten Cozens at Walker Books for the review copy. Opinions on the book are as ever are entirely mine. 

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – Book Review #NOTAskingForIt

First Sunday post of my new schedule and I even had real post delivered today – on a Sunday! Uncle Vernon would be fumigating right now.

Today’s book created another unusual experience for me too – a proper book hangover. Often, after a finishing a book, I can just pick up another not long after  – but, not after this one. It hung around in my brain for a while and has been a tickle there ever since. Please note that this review discusses sexual violence against women so if you find that triggering please don’t read on.

This is my first book from Louise but it won’t be my last. Everyone was talking about Asking For It on twitter and saying how important a read it is. They aren’t wrong but, the fact that that’s true, is.

This is Emma’s story of that time she went to a party in a tiny dress, drank too much, took some drugs and woke up the next morning, in pain, on her front door step. Pictures emerge – online of course – that showed what happened last night and everyone, including Emma herself, is asking – was she Asking For It. You might even be asking the same question.

The book is written from Emma’s point of view and her view is heartbreaking, the responses everyone has to her are illuminated through her internal narration. The person whose initial response made me the most angry was her brother, he comes round, but I couldn’t understand why what he saw would make him think what he does. Some have criticised the ‘repetition’ in this book. I’d suggest that this reflects the type of mental ruminating that might happen after a traumatic event.

I’m not going to tell you the outcome but needless to say this will never be the type of story with a typical happy ending.

Asking For It will make you angry – at society and even at yourself. I knew what this book was about and even found myself almost repeating this question – in fact had the book not added the scenes that Emma doesn’t remember, it would have probably have been a very difficult case to prosecute. I remember seeing the film The Accused with Jodie Foster when I was a lot younger and this book echoes that. Who are the accused? Not the rapists but the girl who “let herself” get in a position to be raped. We really need to change the question from What did she do? To Why did they do it?

Please put yourself aside a few hours to read this in one go – once you’ve started it you won’t want to put it down…and even after you’ve literally put it to one side, figuratively it’s going to stay with you.

People ask why do we need feminism – because we call books like this important. Because the cover of the girl as a Barbie doll to be played with and posed is reflected on the cover of numerous magazines and in clubs and at parties across the world. I look forward to the day that the story in this book is seen as a relic of the past! How can we make that a reality?

I was inspired by Georgia Blackheart @GeorgiaReads review graphic. She said I could borrow the idea so I made some review tweaks to the cover below.

Asking for it

Next Sunday Guest post from author Holly Webb as part of the Return to the Secret Garden Blog Tour

Coming Soon Review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown – sneak peek – I bloodydamn loved it!

%d bloggers like this: