I may be late to the Moxie party, but late is better than never. Especially when we’re talking about a kick-ass YA novel that I wish was written when I was in high school so I could’ve had a how-to guide to feminism. But, I can’t think of a BETTER time to read Moxie than RIGHT NOW!
Moxie is for the new generation of girls ready to fight back and those still fighting the system after all these years. Written by Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About Alice (Winner of the Children’s Choice Book Awards’ Teen Choice Debut Author Award), the novel follows Vivian Carter’s journey from studious teenager hesitant to speak up to a feminist fed up with the sexism in her high school. Anonymously, she creates a zine and distributes it in school. She was just blowing off steam. But her zine spark a revolution that crosses the divisions between cliques, race, and gender.
Between writing her next novel The Liars of Mariposa Island and working as a high school English teacher, Jennifer graciously talked to Novel2Screen about this much-needed, timely book that was released in paperback this week.
Chris: The dress code, the bump-and-grab, the sexism the characters experience in Moxie, were these issues you faced in high school or did you pull from your experience as a high school teacher?
Jen: Sadly, everything that happens in Moxie happened to me, to a friend, or is something I have observed in an actual high school setting as a teacher. One need only read the dedication to Moxie to know what happened to me as a teenager in high school. Unfortunately, not much has changed from the ’90s. Dress code issues are still huge in high schools which exhausts me. I don’t know why we spend so much time worrying about people’s clothes!
Chris: With our political climate and the rise of the #MeToo movement, I can’t imagine a better time for Moxie. How long had this story been brewing inside you and what made you decide the time was now?
Jen: The book world moves at the pace of death. The book came out in 2017 after Trump had won, but I wrote that book long before Hillary Clinton was even the Democratic nominee. To be honest, as I was drafting it I was thinking, “If Hillary gets the nomination and wins, which she probably will, I’ll probably have a lot of people telling me we don’t need a feminist book if we have a female president.” Sigh. I do think Moxie came out at a particularly important time for women and during the fight for women’s rights, which is helpful in terms of sales, I suppose. But the truth is that the fight for women’s rights is always something critical, and even if Hillary had won, that wouldn’t have meant that we would have no need for feminism.
Chris: What do you hope readers take away from the novel?
Jen: I hope that readers, especially young readers, will take away from Moxie that feminism is a joyful thing and that living your life as a feminist – whether you’re a man or a woman – means living your full humanity. I hope that readers will understand that feminism is not a scary word!
Chris: Too often teens are portrayed as incorrigible rebels, but many are like Vivian Carter – not wanting to rock the boat and focused on doing the right things to get into the right college. What would you say to the quiet girl, the shy one or studious one, who like Vivian wants change but is too scared to stand up to authority?
Jen: I’d say there are so many ways to fight back. I love a bold woman who isn’t afraid to stand up and shout truth to power (I’m looking at you, Emma Gonzalez!), but I also believe there are quiet ways to fight and organize. In fact, I am thinking of a dear friend of mine who is a stay at home mom and a little on the shy side, and she has blown me away with her boots on the ground organizing during this election season, via email, text, phone calls, and meetings she has held in her home. She has inspired me to do so much! Find your voice – whatever it looks like – and do what feels good to you. There are so many ways to contribute.
Pick up a copy of Moxie and join the fight. Jennifer Mathieu’s next novel, The Liars of Mariposa Island, from Roaring Brook/Macmillan is out Fall 2019!
And don’t forget to vote November 6, 2018.
For more of Chris’s interviews with authors, click here.