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MOXIE

Designed to empower, the novel occasionally fails to consider that changing a culture of misogyny requires educating and...

Fed up by her high school’s culture of misogyny, Vivian leads a feminist rebellion.

Staff at Vivian’s school conveniently overlook the demeaning remarks football players and their friends direct at girls, the ongoing hallway sexual harassment of “bump ’n’ grab,” and the annual tournament to identify the “most fuckable” girl on campus. Enraged by the toxic environment, and inspired by 1990s Riot Grrrl culture, Vivian creates an anonymous zine—Moxie—to empower girls. Some of Vivian’s protest ideas are inspired, as when girls wear bathrobes to protest the unfair enforcement of the school’s dress code. Soon Moxie supports such additional projects as girls’ soccer fundraisers, successfully strengthening the school’s sisterhood. But there are troubling moments when Vivian excludes willing male participants, seemingly suggesting that achieving female empowerment requires gender separation. And Moxie moves dangerously toward vigilante justice when it’s used to accuse a student of attempted rape. Vivian’s incensed reaction when her boyfriend suggests the anonymous accuser might be lying ignores the American judicial system’s core tenet of due process. Further, the novel fails to educate readers that qualified police investigators, not school officials, must be alerted in accusations of criminal behaviors.

Designed to empower, the novel occasionally fails to consider that changing a culture of misogyny requires educating and embracing support from members of all genders. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-635-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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