By Jennifer Mathieu.
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
I saw this book while I was browsing Barnes & Noble’s massive store at Union Square NYC, and it caught my attention for a few reasons:
a) It had a blurb by Amy Poehler;
b) It referenced Riot Grrrls;
c) It was signed with a cool dedication by the author.
So after much indecision and rationalization about how many books I could actually get to fit in my luggage without going over the weight limit on my flight home, I bought this along with
a few a lot of other books. What can I say, I have no self control.
And I’m so glad I don’t, because this book is fantastic!
I loved Viv and related to her so much. Having lived through the Riot Grrrl movement myself when I was a teenager in the 90s (which means I’m actually more like Viv’s mom in present day!) and having contributed myself to a couple of zines back then, I was thrilled to see her discovering her mom’s old zines and starting to make her own. We actually get to see the zines she makes throughout the book, and it’s really cool.
On the very first one she makes and distributes she has the idea of finding girls who feel like her by suggesting they mark their hands with stars and hearts on a certain school day. At first she thinks she’s the only one who did it, but gradually she starts realizing more girls have drawn on their hands, which leads to unexpected conversations and connections. And then this happened:
Her love interest, ladies and gentlemen. Needless to say I was sold on him as soon as I read this. The romance that develops is as cute as the quote above implies, but doesn’t overpower the main story about feminism. It’s very interesting to see how Viv juggles her new boyfriend and the Moxie girls, and how she struggles to finds a balance between them. Eventually she comes to understand she can be both the girl with a boyfriend AND the girl who is a feminist, which is just one of the many life lessons you can take away from this story.
Most of all though, this book is about relationships between women. It’s about women coming together and it’s about what happens when women actually stand together and fight back. Spoiler alert: awesomeness, that’s what happens.
4 hearts out of 5.