In Jennifer Mathieu’s forthcoming YA novel Moxie, a teenage girl named Viv finds her mother’s ’90s zines and Riot Grrrl music and is inspired to start a feminist revolution in her high school.
“I wrote Moxie because I wanted to share with young readers, especially young women, how important and necessary feminism is, but also how joyful it can be to live your life as a feminist,” Mathieu tells EW. “I’ve made some of the most supportive and powerful friendships in my life with other feminists. Now more than ever, with so much repulsive, woman-hating language in the news cycle and during this past presidential campaign, I also hope Moxie and other like-minded books help young readers remember such behavior is never okay, no matter who says it.”
EW reveals Moxie’s cover and an exclusive excerpt in advance of its Sept. 19, 2017, publication, below:
Excerpt from Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
“Let’s hear it for the East Rockport Pirates!” comes a booming voice from the center of the gym floor. Principal Wilson is standing behind the microphone, his gut hanging over his belt, his face cherry red before he even starts yelling. Pretty soon he gets even redder as he bellows and shouts about the best football team in the world and how we all have to support the mighty Pirates and on and on and on.
“I’m bored,” Claudia announces, her voice flat. She stares out over the heads of the girls in front of us, then yawns as if proving her point.
Principal Wilson introduces Coach Cole and then Coach Cole introduces the football players and Mitchell Wilson and all the other boys trot out in their jeans and football jerseys over their shirts and Emma Greenwood and the other Creamsicle girls do backflips and the pep band exhibits pep and Claudia yawns again.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in a town that doesn’t revolve around 17-year-old boys who get laid way too often just because they know how to throw a football.
“Folks, I want to remind y’all how important it is to come out and support your Pirates tonight because we’re going to need every one of y’all cheering as loud as you can, am I right!” Coach Cole hollers. The crowd hollers back, like they’re at a church service run by one of those preachers you see on TV. The rally continues like this until the bitter end when Jason Garza, the senior captain, whips his football jersey over his head and swings it around like a lasso before throwing it into the crowd, where a bunch of girls scream and lunge for it like a bouquet at a wedding.
“Oh, shit, look at what he has on,” Claudia mutters. “Another one of his gross shirts.”
Under his football jersey, Jason is wearing a white T-shirt with big black letters. It reads Great Legs—When Do They Open?
“Gross,” I mutter. Jason is wearing the shirt in front of Coach Cole and Principal Wilson, but it won’t matter. He can get away with it. He always gets away with shirts like these, and he’s not the only boy in the school who likes wearing them. Boys being boys or whatever. The rest of the football players, including Mitchell, are laughing. I catch the expressions of some of the guys in the front bleachers, and they’re laughing, too. Jason even does a little attempt at a sexy dance in front of a few of the girls up front, shifting his hips around like he’s trying to keep up some invisible hula hoop. The thatch of dark hair on his head makes him look like a rooster strutting around up there. The girls laugh and put their hands up in front of their faces, and I can’t tell if they’re grossed out or if they’re actually liking it.
Then I notice one of the girls is Lucy Hernandez. Even from all these rows back, it’s easy to see she’s not smiling or giggling or laughing or even pretending to be grossed out. She’s just grossed out for real. This isn’t the first pep rally of the year, so poor Lucy should know by now that you never sit in the first few rows unless you’re a hardcore Pirates fan. Better to hide toward the back, like people who only go to church on Christmas.
Jason must get Lucy’s disgust because he makes a point of gyrating his hips right up near her face, and she just looks away, down at the ground. She’s blushing. Everyone else is hooting.
Something charges through my body, and I look down and see my hands are balled-up into fists. I stare at them for a moment, surprised, and then will them to release.
“All right, all right,” Principal Wilson announces on the microphone, “let’s get going to lunch, y’all. Why don’t we save that energy for the game, Jason.”
The band plays its last notes as we stream out of the gym. I look back but Seth has been swallowed up by the crowd. I hope Seth Acosta is not the sort of guy who would wear a shirt that reads Great Legs—When Do They Open? He could look as hot as a young Ralph Macchio in The Outsiders, but I still wouldn’t want to hang out with a guy who wears a shirt like that. Even my fantasy boyfriends have to have standards.
As Claudia and I head toward the cafeteria for lunch, we get pushed and bounced through the shuffle of the crowd, and I realize I’ve ended up near Lucy. She walks toward the edge of the hallway, her shoulder bumping into the row of lockers every so often. Her cheeks are still pink, and she’s not really looking at anyone as she makes her way down the packed hallway. I think about asking her to eat with us in the cafeteria, but the idea of breaking out of my regular social routine and talking to someone new seems exhausting somehow.
After she spoke up in Mr. Davies’s class, I know Lucy is the kind of girl who isn’t afraid to be the center of attention even if it doesn’t make her too popular. It’s not so much that I want to be popular, because popular people at East Rockport High School are basically a–holes, but I like flying under the radar. I wish I didn’t give a s— about what people think about me. Like my mom coming to school with blue hair. She was never dutiful or under the radar when she went here. That’s why she became a Riot Grrrl.