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[5 of 5] Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (2017) Chapters 21-25

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Mathieu, Jennifer. “Chapters 21- 25.” Moxie: A Novel, Square Fish, Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2017.

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

I pull open the heavy door of the VFW hall and am immediately overtaken by the scent of stale cigarette smoke.

“Phew, it smells like our den before my dad quit,” says Claudia, wrinkling her nose.

Lucy, Sara, Kaitlyn, and Meg are with us, too. We all blink as our eyes adjust to the semi-darkness of the wood-paneled room that hasn’t been renovated since the 1970s at least. Old Lone Star and Shiner Bock beer signs hang in the corner by an empty bar.

“Hey,” says Amaya, walking toward us. I look around. There are about twenty girls here. My heart sinks a bit. That’s a really small number of girls considering the size of East Rockport. But I remind myself that it’s still early.

“Five dollars,” Amaya says, opening a shoe box. We all pull out our crumpled bills, and Amaya thanks us for coming and tells us we can put the baked goods we brought with us on the bake sale table.

Most of the girls here are on the soccer team. Music thumps, and my friends and I clump together as we awkwardly walk the perimeter of the hall.

“Hey, there you are,” Kiera says, coming up. She’s dressed in dark jeans and a bright pink top. She’s wearing pink lipstick to match. “Glad you made it.”

“This is cool,” says Lucy, even though nothing is really happening. I know she wants Kiera to like her. To be glad she’s here.

“Thanks,” says Kiera. She looks at her phone. “I’m hoping a few more girls come. I just heard from my friends Maci and Charity that they’re on their way.”

“Cool,” I say, nodding.

Kiera smiles and heads off, and my friends and I walk around, clutching our paper plates full of lemon bars and chocolate chip cookies.

Around the room, girls have different stuff for sale, their wares spread out on card tables. Marisela Perez has dozens of tiny charm bracelets she’s made by hand, each for sale for five dollars. They’re delicate things, with tiny colored plastic beads lining them like gum drops.

“These are pretty,” says Claudia, reaching out to touch one.

“Thanks,” says Marisela, picking up one of her creations. “I just make them for fun and sell them to my cousins. This is the first time I’m trying to, you know, sell them to other people. But it helps me, too, since I’m on the soccer team.”

“I’ll buy one before the night is over,” Claudia says, and Marisela grins.

After we drop off our bars and cookies at the bake sale table, we keep exploring. We see jewelry, magnets, and stickers for sale. My heart wants to burst when I see a bunch of the Moxie zines—all the way back to the first one—laid out on a table in careful rows, free for the taking. I guess that Kiera made copies of existing zines because the images are a little blurrier and softer than in the copies I made.

I recognize Kiera’s table immediately. It’s full of her drawings—a row of leafless trees in winter, stretching out to the horizon. Two hands clutching each other, their fingers laced together. A single eyeball, staring steadily back. Her sketches are all black and white and really remarkable. She’s come a long way since our Diary of a Wimpy Kid days.

“This is … so cool,” says Lucy, barely able to contain herself. “It’s reminding me of my old GRIT club in Houston.” Claudia and the other girls seems a little less certain, but we decide to walk the perimeter in our awkward clump again—Claudia wants to get one of Marisela’s bracelets—and by the time we’ve made it around, a few more girls have spilled in. They look like underclassmen, uncertain and nervous. I lift a hand and smile hello, and they smile back.

The door keeps opening and more girls keep coming in, enough that we have to start shouting over the music. It starts to grow stuffy and hot, and Kiera and Amaya open the windows because the air conditioner isn’t working so well, but our thin sheens of sweat start to make us all glow a bit. My friends and I decide to go for some lemonade.

“Do you want regular or … fortified?” the girl behind the table says, eyeing us.

“Fortified?” Claudia asks loudly, and the girl shoots her a look. I recognize her as one of the soccer players. I think her name is Jane.

Lucy nudges Claudia with an elbow and all of us notice a paper bag on the floor with a slim bottle in it.

“Vodka,” Jane whispers. She winks.

“Fortified, please,” Lucy says without hesitation as she forks over her money, and soon we are clutching plastic cups of special lemonade. It’s not long before Claudia starts bopping around to the beat of the music, a sly smile spreading over her face.

“Claudia is way fortified,” she says to us, and we laugh. At this point the room is close to full, girls from almost every group at East Rockport High moving around and in between each other, handing over babysitting dollars and Sonic carhop dollars and weekly allowance dollars to buy Marisela’s bracelets and Kiera’s drawings and stickers someone made that read BOSS BITCH.

We yell hey and hi and ohmygod at each other, and we hug and we kiss on the cheek and we catch up with each other, for once ignoring the unspoken dividing lines of race and class and grade and popularity that we’ve always lived by. Some girls are dancing in the corners, moving their bodies with the freedom that comes when no boy is watching you. It feels buzzy and dizzy and sweaty and so, so, so joyful. I think this is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like a Riot Grrrl, like my mom from way back when, but this is even better because it’s my own thing. It’s our own thing. The girls of East Rockport High. It’s Moxie, and it feels so real and alive and right now.

An hour or so into it, Kiera makes her way to a tiny stage at the back of the room, and she grabs a microphone and taps it.

“Uh, can I get your attention, please,” she asks. A lazy smile slips across her face and I’m pretty sure she’s had a fortified lemonade or two. I take a sip from my second one. My lips feel semi-numb.

The room quiets down and we all turn to face Kiera. When she has our attention, she leans into the microphone.

“Uh, first of all…,” she starts, taking a more than dramatic pause, “Moxie girls fight back!” To my delight and surprise, the girls around me cheer and scream and a few hold up their red Solo cups. Kiera keeps going. “This is a kick-ass lady event, and we’ve raised a ton of money for the girls’ soccer team, enough that we can buy uniforms from this century, I think. So thanks for coming. That’s it. Turn up the music.”

Everyone cheers again, and soon we’re dancing, our bodies moving, one big mass of girls having fun. As I watch Lucy spin and knock her dark curls around, and as I listen to Claudia laugh and sing along (badly), it occurs to me that this is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or an equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word. After today it might be my favorite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.

After another hour or so, it’s starting to grow dark outside, and Kiera makes another announcement into the microphone that they have to lock up the hall. Girls boo until Kiera promises to organize another Moxie meet up later, which gains more cheers. She reminds girls to walk home if they’ve had too much “grown-up lemonade” and to walk in groups.

“I’m okay to drive,” says Sara. “I didn’t drink.”

Kaitlyn and Meg go with her, but Claudia and I agree to walk home with Lucy, who doesn’t live too far from the hall and who walked to get here.

“Maybe we should try to help clean up a little bit first?” Claudia asks, pointing at Kiera and Amaya and a few other girls folding up card tables and dumping cups into big black trash bags.

“Yeah, that would be nice,” Lucy agrees. As she and Claudia busy themselves, I offer to lug some of the garbage bags to the Dumpster.

When I push the back door open, the hot, sticky night air surrounds me like a too-tight hug. There’s a scraping sound as I shove the door open over the gravel parking lot.

“Oh, hey,” a female voice calls out from nearby. I look up and blink my eyes, trying to adjust to the darkness, and spot Marisela and Jane pulling apart from what I can only guess was something more than just a friendly hug. Jane tugs down her T-shirt. Marisela coughs. I’ve stumbled onto a secret, and if it weren’t so dark, Marisela and Jane would be able to see just how much I’m blushing.

“I was just trying to throw these out,” I say, pointing weakly at the bags by my feet. “I’m sorry I interrupted y’all.” I hope my voice reads it’s cool. There are two boys who are out at East Rockport, both of them seniors and both of them involved in the theater department. They hang out together and even though I don’t think they’re together together, everyone assumes they are, and they’re the regular butt of stupid jokes and promises that they’ll be prayed for. I can only imagine that they each have a calendar counting down the days before they can leave this place.

But I don’t know of a single girl who’s come out in all my time at East Rockport High. I mean, there have been rumors, obviously. But that’s all they’ve been. Rumors.

“You won’t tell anyone, right?” Marisela says, leaving the thing I’m not supposed to tell unspoken but obvious. I shake my head no and say, for emphasis, “I won’t tell anyone. I promise.” And I know that I won’t. Not even Lucy or Claudia. Because in a town like East Rockport, what Marisela and Jane have going on is the sort of thing you can’t risk too many people knowing about.

“Thanks,” says Jane. She crosses her arms in front of her, avoids eye contact, and my heart cracks a little for her, and for Marisela, too.

“Here, let me help you,” says Marisela, and she grabs one of the garbage bags, and we haul them into the big blue Dumpster behind the hall.

“Okay,” I say. “Well, I’m heading back in.”

“’Kay,” says Marisela. Then, after a beat, she says, “Tonight was fun. I think this is the best night I’ve had in maybe my entire life.” Her voice is soft and slow, like she’s had her fair share of lemonade. When Marisela says this, Jane looks right at her and smiles so big you can see her gums.

“It was a pretty cool night,” I say, grinning back.

By the time Claudia and I walk Lucy home, we are yawning and dragging our feet on the sidewalk. It feels later than it is.

“You can spend the night if you want, or I can drive you home,” Lucy offers. “I only had one cup of that lemonade, and that was hours ago.” We take Lucy up on her offer of a lift since our parents are waiting up, and we don’t have any of the stuff we need for a sleepover. I text my mom that I’m on my way. By the time Lucy drops me off, Claudia is half-asleep in the backseat.

“’Night, Claud,” I murmur over my shoulder.

“Hmmph.”

“I’m so glad Kiera put that together,” Lucy says. “If it wouldn’t scare your mom and your grandparents, I’d honk my horn out of happiness.”

I reach over and honk Lucy’s car horn twice—toot toot.

“What the hell?” says Claudia, sitting up suddenly, blinking and rubbing her eyes. Lucy laughs, and I do, too.

“Moxie!” I yell, getting out of the car.

“Moxie!” Lucy yells back. She toots the horn one more time before pulling out of the driveway.

My mom greets me at the front door.

“Viv, what’s going on? Are you okay?”

I smile at her and pull her in for a sweaty hug. “Sorry, we were just being stupid.”

“You stink!”

“Thanks a lot,” I say, opening the refrigerator to hunt down something cold to drink. I pour myself some orange juice.

“So how was it?” she asks. I’d told my mom I was going to a girls-only fund-raiser for the soccer team, but I’d been vague on the details.

“Mom, it was so fun,” I tell her, “but I’m so tired.” I want to get to bed while my memories of the night are still fresh so I can fall asleep replaying them in my head.

“Did a lot of girls show up?” my mom asks, leaning against the kitchen counter, watching as I down the entire glass of juice in a few gulps. I hadn’t realized how hot and thirsty I was.

“Yeah,” I say, setting the glass in the sink. “Lots.”

“That’s great,” my mom answers. “I love that the girls wanted to do that. Who organized it, exactly?”

My head is starting to ache a little bit. Maybe from the lemonade. I rub my temples and close my eyes.

“It was just the girls on the soccer team and some other girls,” I say, edging my way down the hall.

“I ran into Claudia’s mom, and she said it was some group called Moxie? She saw Claudia’s flyer for it?”

I pause at my bedroom door, my back to my mom. “Oh, yeah,” I say, surprised Claudia didn’t keep the flyer better hidden. My heart starts racing. Should I tell my mom about Moxie? She would probably think it’s cool, and even have good advice for me about how to keep it going.

But it suddenly hits me that Moxie isn’t all about me. And it’s certainly not about my mom. It belongs to all the girls at East Rockport High School. The heartbeat of the VFW hall is ours and ours alone.

“Are you involved in it?” my mom says, not giving up. “Moxie, I mean. It’s a cool name.”

“Well, I went to this thing tonight, so yeah, sort of,” I say, stripping off my sweaty clothes and searching for my pajamas. “Mom, I’m going to bed, okay? I’m just so sleepy. There was dancing and stuff, and I’m all achy. Can we talk more tomorrow?” I finally work up the guts to turn around and face her.

“Sure, yeah, let’s talk tomorrow,” she says, but her eyes look a little sad, her voice sounds just the tiniest bit wistful. “It just seems like you had fun. You look like you had fun, you know?”

“I did have fun, Mom, I promise,” I tell her, giving her a kiss on the cheek. After she leaves, I check my phone as I collapse into bed. There are a few messages from Seth. The last one reads, How was it? Fun I hope.

I tap out one quick answer.

sooooooo fun thanks for asking more tomorrow I’m sleepy! xo

Then I toss the phone on the floor, and as I slide into sleep, my mind is full of images of girls dancing together and smiling and holding hands, taking up all the space they want.

* * *

The meet up at the VFW hall changes the energy at school—and in a good way. Girls who normally don’t have much to do with each other say hi in the hallways, smiling at each other when they pass. I mean, it’s still the same in a lot of ways—I hear guys arguing about whether Emma Johnson deserved to win March Madness even though she’s still a junior, and Mitchell and his friends still tell girls to make them sandwiches and try to bump ’n’ grab—but still, there’s something about those first few days after Kiera’s event that feel different. Like we’re all just a little bit more aware. Awake.

“I wonder if whoever is making the Moxie newsletter is a senior,” Claudia says as she and I meet up with Lucy outside school before the first bell. “When they graduate, maybe it will stop.”

“Yeah, but even if it is a senior making the newsletters,” says Lucy, pulling her curls up into a ponytail, “it almost doesn’t matter. After Saturday, doesn’t it feel like Moxie could just keep happening no matter what?”

“So you don’t think Kiera started it?” Claudia asks.

Lucy shakes her head. “I don’t think so. Kiera’s flyer had a different feel to it than the newsletters. Just like my bake sale flyers had a different look. Because I didn’t make the newsletters either.”

“I think Lucy is right,” I say.

“That Kiera didn’t make the newsletters?” asks Claudia.

“Well, yeah,” I answer, “but also that it doesn’t matter who made them at all, even if they’re graduating. Because Moxie is a thing that’s everyone’s.” I glance at Claudia, hesitating, then say, “I mean, I think it belongs to girls who care about being feminists.”

Claudia doesn’t respond. Just nods, like she wants to think it over. At that moment, my phone buzzes.

Come to the front doors of the school you won’t believe it

“It’s Sara,” I say, peering down at the text. “Something’s going on around front.”

We make our way around to the front steps of East Rockport High. A crowd is gathering around the stairs that lead to two sets of large, gray metal doors. But you can barely see the doors because they’re covered in bright pink flyers. The buzz of students’ voices grows louder with each passing moment.

Sara spots us, races over with a flyer in her hand. Breathless, she hands it over and we stare.

“Holy shit,” says Lucy.

Because really, that’s all there is to say.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Of course, it’s all anyone can talk about. But weirdly, East Rockport almost feels quieter than normal. Because people are so stunned by the flyer that they are whispering, speaking in hushed voices. Not even opening their mouths so much as staring at each other with can-you-believe-it? looks on their faces.

Here and there, I catch snippets of conversation.

“Has anyone seen Mitchell?”

“Who do you think did this?”

“Do you think it’s true?”

Lucy has to leave us to head to first period, but Claudia and I walk to history class together, Claudia’s hand clutching the paper, her eyes scanning the words over and over.

“Claudia, watch out,” I say, tugging on her elbow. “You almost ran into a wall.”

“Huh?” Claudia says, looking up at me at last. “Oh. Sorry.”

“You okay?” I ask.

Claudia frowns and shakes her head. She doesn’t have to talk for me to know what she’s thinking as she stares at the flyer. This could have been me.

Claudia heads into history class, but just as I’m about to walk in, Seth comes around the corner, holding a flyer like everyone else. He leans in to kiss me, but I freeze up. I don’t feel like kissing.

“You okay?” he says, pulling back. A hurt expression crosses his face. I pretend it’s not there.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” I say. “Just … that flyer. It’s disturbing.”

“I know,” he says. “You have any idea who did it?” But I shake my head no.

“You think it’s true?” he asks.

Now it’s my turn to pull back. My throat tightens up. My chest feels heavy.

“Of course it’s true,” I say. I look around and then, practically mouthing the words, I say, “I told you what he did to Claudia.”

Seth nods, like he’d forgotten all about Claudia. Maybe he has. “Yeah, of course. I mean, I know he did that. And it’s gross. But this girl”—he holds the flyer up—“she’s saying he tried to rape her.”

“I know,” I say. “And?”

“Just that that’s a really big accusation to make against a guy, that’s all.”

I don’t even know what to say. I stare at Seth. I want him to be on my side. Defending this girl with me.

“Look, I’m not saying it’s not true,” says Seth, flustered. “Just that this is a pretty big accusation and I’m just, like, surprised she put it out there like this instead of letting the school handle it.”

“But she said they didn’t listen to her, and when Claudia went to the school they told her to use winter break to forget about what happened,” I say. I can feel heat radiating off my face. I tug on the shoulder straps of my backpack and hug it closer to me. “Look, I’m going to be late.”

“Okay, fine, I was just making a point,” Seth says. “I’m not saying it didn’t happen.”

“I guess it kind of sounded like you were saying that,” I snap.

“Look, Vivian, calm down,” he says. “I’m not…”

“Let’s talk later,” I say, angry. “And don’t tell me to calm down.”

Seth steps back, like I’ve just punched him hard in the gut.

I walk into class, blinking back tears I didn’t know were threatening to spill out.

“You okay?” Claudia asks as I take my seat in front of her.

“I just got into a…” I search for a better word, but there isn’t one. “I got into a fight with Seth. He was saying he wonders if the girl who made the flyer is even telling the truth.”

Just then the bell rings, but our teacher, Mrs. Robbins, isn’t there. Everyone around us is talking about the flyers, but Claudia leans in toward me, her face concerned. “I’m sorry, Vivvy. What happened?” But I don’t get a chance to answer because suddenly Mrs. Robbins walks in with more purpose than she’s exhibited all year. Clapping her hands together, she barks at us to pay attention.

“I’ve just come from an emergency faculty meeting,” she says, acting as if an emergency faculty meeting is the equivalent of high-level nuclear disarmament talks. “Principal Wilson is about to make an announcement. All of you need to listen very carefully.” She stares at all of us, but it feels like her icy gaze lingers longer on the girls.

A few moments later, the intercom makes a tinny beep. Then Principal Wilson’s gruff voice begins talking, his twang thick with anger.

“Students of East Rockport, it has come to my attention that a flyer is making its way around the school calling for a walkout tomorrow afternoon,” he says. I imagine him standing in his office, talking into a microphone like he’s the dictator of a small country.

“Any student who walks out of this school will be suspended immediately, and I will begin the process of expulsion immediately,” he says. At this heads turn and whispers start, but Mrs. Robbins claps her hands agains and shouts, “Listen up, people!”

“Regarding the situation in the flyer itself,” continues Principal Wilson, “please know the administration is looking into the allegations. Safety for our students is a top concern, of course.” The words are so perfunctory and laughable I can’t help but turn in my seat and roll my eyes at Claudia and Sara. I don’t care if Mrs. Robbins sees.

“Now let’s get back to learning,” he says. “Our custodial staff is in the process of removing the flyers. Any flyer found will be confiscated.”

I sit at my desk, burning with rage. He’s looking into the allegations involving his own asshole son. A visit from Martians during lunchtime is more likely.

Mrs. Robbins tries to run class, but all of us are distracted, and my mind keeps spinning in circles, thinking about both Seth and the walkout. When the bell rings, Claudia asks Sara and me if we’re going to participate on Friday.

“I think I want to do it,” I say as we maneuver through the hallway. It surprises me as soon as it’s out of my mouth. But it’s the only possible answer. The only one that makes sense.

“You’re not afraid of getting expelled?” Claudia asks, twisting up her mouth in concern.

A girl I don’t know all that well—she’s only a freshman, I think—overhears us.

“Look, Wilson can’t expel us if we all walk out,” she insists. “Moxie girls fight back, right?” I remember her from the VFW hall, and in this moment I know for sure that Moxie is out of my hands. It’s thrilling and terrifying at the same time.

Just then Claudia’s phone buzzes. She looks down and gasps.

“What?” Sara asks, alarmed.

“Check your phones,” she says. “Meg texted us.”

Wilson pulled Lucy out of first period … she never came back. He was PISSED

“Shit,” I say. “Why did she have to be so by the book and fill out that form for the bake sale?”

“But she didn’t make the flyers, right?” Sara asks.

“No, but Wilson only wants someone he can pin this on,” I say. I remember Lucy crying in her bedroom, worrying about college scholarships. My stomach knots up. “God, I hope he only brought her in to question her.”

But by English no one has spotted Lucy, and she doesn’t show up for class. Neither does Mitchell Wilson, for that matter, which causes another round of whispers. When Seth walks in, he doesn’t look at me and I don’t look at him. I swallow hard and try to ignore the ache in my throat. I bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from crying. Everything feels so fucked up.

Before Mr. Davies starts class, I text Lucy for the tenth time.

Where are you????? Please tell me you’re okay

Nothing.

Finally, at the end of the day, Lucy texts back.

I got suspended. I’m a mess.… can you please come over? But just you, ok? I can’t take a hundred million questions from everyone.

I text back right away.

I’ll get there somehow I promise

I dart through the halls looking for Claudia, hoping she borrowed her mom’s car to drive to school like she sometimes does. When I see her, I tell her what’s happened and ask if she can take me to Lucy’s. She says yes without hesitating.

As we drive to Lucy’s house, I tell Claudia that Lucy only wants me to come in.

“I hope you understand,” I say. I think back to earlier in the year. To the times when Claudia acted a little bit irritated by Lucy.

Claudia nods. “It’s okay. I get it.” She pulls up to Lucy’s grandmother’s house. “Tell her I’m sorry, though, okay?”

I smile at my best friend since forever and start to open the car door.

“Hey,” Claudia says, stopping me. I turn back to find her looking at me intently. She bites her bottom lip.

“What is it? Are you okay?”

“It’s just…,” she starts, her voice a little shaky, “I kind of feel like I want to do the walkout. I know it’s crazy, maybe. But part of me really wants to do it. Because screw Mitchell Wilson and his dad.”

My smile grows bigger, and I reach out to hug Claudia. “I think you’re a badass,” I whisper into her ear. “And a really good friend.” Her hug feels like everything good and warm and familiar.

“I love you, Viv,” she whispers back.

“I love you, too.”

When I knock on Lucy’s front door, Lucy’s grandmother greets me, her mouth turned down in a tight frown.

“I’m not sure if I should let you in,” she says. “Lucy never got in trouble at the school before. Suspended? Qué barbaridad!”

“Abuelita, please let her in!” comes Lucy’s voice from the top of the stairs, strained and tight.

Lucy’s grandmother rolls her eyes slightly and then steps back, and soon I’m in Lucy’s cluttered room. My friend is curled up on her bed, her eyes red from crying.

“I’m so fucked,” she says, reaching for a relatively clean Kleenex from the mountain of crumpled tissues spread out before her and dabs her eyes.

“Oh, Lucy, I’m so sorry,” I say, sinking onto the bed. All the guilt I felt when Lucy was sent home after the assembly about the stickers starts to build again, making me sick to my stomach. “What happened?”

In long, rushed phrases punctuated by half sobs and sniffles, Lucy tells me how she was hauled out of first period and taken directly to Principal Wilson’s office (“It’s like a shrine to the football team in there, in cases you’re wondering”) and how Principal Wilson accused her of making the flyer since the Moxie name was on it. When Lucy denied it and refused to provide any information, Principal Wilson told her he didn’t believe her.

“So he thinks you accused Mitchell of trying to rape you?” I say.

“That’s the thing,” Lucy says, sitting up, rubbing her eyes. “It was like he knew the flyer wasn’t about me—which it isn’t—but he was still accusing me of making it.”

“So you think he knows who Mitchell tried to rape?”

Lucy shrugs, takes the tissue in her hand, and squeezes it into a tight ball before throwing it off the side of her bed. “Yeah,” she says. “I mean, the flyer said the girl went and told him, so he must.”

“So now what?” I ask, frowning.

“I’m suspended tomorrow,” she says. “He’s not expelling me, but he says he’s going to contact every college I apply to next year, to let them know what I did.” I expect her to start wailing at this, but instead she just slides back against her bedroom wall and stares out numbly at the space in front of her. “I wish I knew who started Moxie,” she says. “I would ask them what the hell to do next.”

My heart starts to pound, then journey up to my throat. I open my mouth, then close it.

I can’t do it. But I have to do it.

“So I won’t be at school tomorrow,” Lucy continues. “He made sure that I wouldn’t be there for the walkout. Since he thinks I’m the leader of Moxie, I guess he assumes that if I’m absent, I’ll be less of an influence.”

Once I say it, there’s no going back.

I look down at my hands. They’re gripping Lucy’s lavender-flowered bedspread so tight the veins in my knuckles are popping out.

“I have to tell you something,” I say, and now it’s too late to stop for sure.

“What?”

I swallow hard. I take a deep breath.

“I made Moxie,” I say out loud. At last. “I made the zines. Everyone keeps calling them newsletters, but they’re zines. I made the stickers, and I started the bathrobe thing and the stars-and-the-hearts-on-the-hands thing. It was me. I got inspired by my mom’s Riot Grrrl stuff from the ’90s. The only other person who knows is Seth, but I think maybe now we’ve broken up or something, so … I don’t know. But I did it. I started it.” My throat starts to tighten up. I swallow and feel my face start to flush.

Lucy stares at me and then, slowly, her body slides off the bed until she collases into a lump on the messy floor.

“Lucy?” I say.

She looks up at me and says, slowly and deliberately, “You. Are. Shitting. Me.”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. “I really did it.” My heart is still hammering, trying to catch up with what I’ve just done.

“But you didn’t do the flyer this morning?” she asks, concerned.

“No,” I say. “And Kiera did the VFW hall thing and you did the bake sale. I have no idea who made the flyer. Or who put the stickers on Principal Wilson’s car.”

“Holy shit, Viv!” Lucy says, standing up.

“Are you mad at me?” I feel tears start to fight their way out, but I hold them back. I can’t be the one who’s upset here. Lucy should be mad at me. I lied to her so much.

“Why would I be mad at you?” She’s almost shouting. “And why am I standing up?” Then she falls back down on her bed with a flop.

“I can’t let you take the fall for this, Lucy,” I say, my voice cracking a bit. “I can’t let you get in trouble for the walkout when you didn’t even start Moxie.” I imagine turning myself in to Principal Wilson. Meemaw and Grandpa will be scandalized. I’m not sure how my mom will feel. But it’s the right thing to do. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. I probably should have. The whole thing has just gotten out of control.”

Lucy sits up. “Oh, Viv, it’s okay. I mean, I guess I am a little hurt you didn’t tell me. But the truth is, Moxie was almost more powerful because it didn’t have a leader, you know? Like, I can see why you did it that way.” Then she shoots me a rueful grin. “And anyway, maybe it’s better I didn’t know. I always have had trouble keeping my big mouth shut.”

I manage a smile. It’s nice she’s taking it so well. But still.

“I need to go in to talk to Wilson,” I say. “I have to.”

“I don’t know,” she answers. “I’m already in trouble for putting my name on the form. Wilson probably won’t even believe you. And he’d rather blame some Mexican girl from the city than a nice white girl like you who’s been here all her life.”

I flop back on Lucy’s bed. There’s a tiny crack running across the ceiling. I trace it with my eyes until the tears finally come. I let them stream down my cheeks, not even trying to stop them.

“Viv?” Lucy says.

“Everything is so screwed up,” I say. “Moxie’s gotten out of hand. And now Seth and I are in a fight, and you’re in trouble, and it’s all messed up. And what does it matter? Nothing is going to change. Nothing. I should have just done what my mom always planned for me to do and kept my head down and got into college and gotten out of here.”

“No, Viv, no,” says Lucy, shaking me. “Are you kidding me? Moxie has been worth it. Think about last Saturday. Think about the fact that the girl Mitchell attacked wouldn’t have spoken up without Moxie. Hell, at the very least, acknowledge that Moxie is the reason you and I became friends.”

I peer up at Lucy and smile. Behind her, I spy the bright yellow Post-its with the Audre Lorde quote on them.

YOUR SILENCE WILL NOT PROTECT YOU.

“Should I do the walkout?” I say.

Lucy looks me dead in the eyes. She nods firmly. “You know the answer,” she says. “I don’t even care if I take the blame for all of it. It’s worth it to me if it happens. I’ll write an essay about it for my college applications. If nobody does the walkout, it’s like I got suspended for nothing. It’s like Wilson wins.”

I nod, and I know Lucy is right. “Who do you think made the flyer?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she answers. “The messed-up thing is it could be almost any girl. But whoever it is, she’s telling the truth. I believe her with all my heart.”

I curl into myself, remembering Seth’s doubt. I tell Lucy about my conversation with him earlier in the day.

“Sometimes I think even the best guys have a hard time getting it,” Lucy says, her voice sad and soft. “And I think Seth is a really great guy. I do. But if he hasn’t lived it, he just can’t know, I guess.”

I sniffle a little. “You think he’s a good guy?”

“Yeah,” she says. “I do.”

“Lucy,” I say, my voice cracking, “I’m so glad we’re friends.”

Lucy grins. “Me, too,” she says. “And I still can’t believe you made those newsletters.”

“Zines. They’re called zines.”

“Okay, zines,” she says, rolling her eyes. She reaches out to hug me. A good, strong hug. The kind of hug that says, “I get it.” The kind of hug that says, “I’m here.”

* * *

Lucy’s grandmother won’t let her drive me home, so I have to make the long walk to my house from hers, and halfway home my phone buzzes with a text from my mom.

Just got one of those robocalls from your school … something about a walkout?

Damn it. Wilson is pulling out all the stops.

Yeah it’s a long story … a girl accused Mitchell Wilson of trying to rape her. And some girls are organizing a walkout to protest that the school isn’t doing anything about it.

I choose to leave out the part about me actually starting the movement that sparked the walkout to begin with.

My phone rings mere seconds after I send the text. I stop in the middle of the sidewalk to answer.

“Mom?”

“What is going on at that school?” she asks, not even saying hello. In the background I can hear voices shouting and the hustle-bustle sounds of the urgent care center.

“Exactly what I said in my text,” I tell her.

“God, it’s like nothing’s changed in all these years,” my mom mutters, her voice full of exasperation.

“What did the robocall say?” I ask.

“Just that a walkout had been planned and if anyone participated they would be subject to suspension and possible expulsion.”

Principal Wilson isn’t messing around if he’s gone so far as to call parents. I stand there, the mid-April heat surrounding me. I stare at the house in front of me, wishing it were mine so that I would already be home and hiding under my covers.

“What time are you coming home tonight?” I ask, and suddenly I feel like crying again.

“I have a date with John,” she says. “Do you need me to cancel?”

“Yeah,” I say. Now I’m definitely crying again.

“Vivvy, are you okay? You need me to come home now?”

“Mom, I think me and Seth broke up,” I say. Tears are pouring down my face. “Everything is so messed up.”

“Oh, honey, I’m leaving right now.”

I squeeze my eyes shut and try to calm down. “No, no, it’s okay. I’m not even home yet. I’m walking home from Lucy’s. Just come home as soon as you can, okay?”

“Okay,” my mom answers. “You’re sure you don’t want me to leave right now?”

“Yes,” I say, taking a deep breath. “I’m okay.”

She makes me promise to text when I get home and to head over to Meemaw and Grandpa’s if I get too upset, but the truth is the only place I want to be is in my bedroom all by myself. I want to turn Bikini Kill up as loud as it will go and curl up in my bed and let my body absorb all the lyrics until I have enough strength to deal with whatever is going to happen next.

* * *

My mom finds me in bed, my throat raw from the crying I did at Lucy’s house and the crying that started up again as soon as I got home.

She wordlessly curls up next to me, still dressed in her scrubs, and hugs me. She doesn’t say anything for a while. Just rests next to me. Even Joan Jett joins us, like she knows I need the company. She balls up next to my stomach and purrs like a diesel engine.

“Wanna talk?” my mother says at last.

“Yeah,” I say. Staring at tacked-up posters of bands I used to like in ninth grade, I give her the basics about the flyer and the walkout and then, my voice cracking, I tell her about my fight with Seth.

“I feel awful,” I say, turning toward her.

My mom sighs and sits up, undoes her ponytail and does it up again.

“How did you end things again?” she asks.

“I told him to stop telling me to calm down,” I say. “I feel bad that I said it, but at the same time, I don’t. Because I meant it.”

My mom nods. “You know one thing I loved about your dad?” she says. My eyebrows pop up slightly. We hardly ever talk about my father. “Well, I mean, there were a lot of things I loved about him, but one thing I loved about him more than anything was that I knew that I could say anything to him, and we would be okay. I could snap or get mad. I could get frustrated. And he got frustrated with me, too. That’s what happens in relationships. People aren’t perfect. But at the core, I knew he loved me for me. I knew he accepted me for who I was. He was a good man because of that.”

I think about what Lucy said earlier. “Seth is a good person,” I say.

My mother nods again. “He seems to be, so far as I can tell.”

“But he didn’t get it. About the flyer. About what Mitchell did.”

“He’s still learning,” my mother offers. “The thing is, guys are indoctrinated with the same bullshit.”

“I guess I never thought about it that way,” I say.

My mother pulls me toward her and kisses me on the top of the head. “Vivvy, you’ll work it out. I bet you really will.”

I shrug, not so sure. “Even if we do or don’t, it doesn’t really answer the question about the walkout.” I gnaw on a thumbnail.

“So it was this Moxie group that called for the walkout?” my mom asks, her voice full of concern. My mouth goes dry. It was okay to talk about Seth with my mom. That felt okay. But now we’re venturing into trickier territory.

“Yeah, it was the Moxie name on the flyer,” I say, glancing back up at my posters, avoiding eye contact. “But, I mean, no one knows the exact girl who made the flyer.”

I could tell my mom about Moxie. Like I told Lucy. I could. But my entire mouth has turned into sandpaper.

“So, I’m confused,” my mom continues. I glance at her and feel my cheeks redden, so I look away again. “Is this Moxie group like a club or what? With a president and everything?”

“Not exactly,” I say.

If only she knew.

I roll to my side, my back to my mother. If I tell my mom I started Moxie, it will be like giving it to a grownup, almost like taking it away from the girls of East Rockport.

“Well, a walkout is a pretty big statement, don’t you think?” my mother asks, reaching out to stroke my hair. It’s a kind gesture, but I find myself freezing up.

“Yeah, it is,” I answer, still facing away from her. I decide to test the waters. “You think I should do it? Even though Principal Wilson is threatening to expel the girls who do?”

There’s a pause. “This is some sort of karmic thing, isn’t it?” she says at last.

I turn and look over my shoulder, peering up at her. “What do you mean?”

“All the times I insisted to Meemaw and Grandpa that all my crazy stunts in high school were just my way of fighting The System—capital T, capital S,” my mother says, shaking her head. “And now you’re asking me for permission to participate in civil disobedience.”

“I guess that is some irony for you,” I say.

“It’s blistering.” She sighs and rubs her eyes.

“You still haven’t told me what you think I should do.”

She takes a deep breath. “The mother I thought I would be when I was nineteen wants to tell you to do it,” she answers. “And the mother I’ve morphed into wants to tell you I’m afraid. Afraid that you could get expelled. Afraid for what that might mean for your future. For college. I don’t know, Vivvy.”

My stomach sinks. Because I know that in the end the only person who’s going to be able to decide what to do when it comes to the walkout is me. I tug my bedspread over my face.

“You wanna be alone for a little while?” my mom asks, her voice muffled.

“Yeah,” I answer. But then I peek my eyes out. I don’t want to end our conversation like this. My mom’s mouth has turned into a soft, anxious frown, like she’s searching for the just-right words.

“Viv, I love you,” she says finally. “And whatever you decide … whatever happens … I’ll always love you, and I’ll always stand with you.”

The knots in my gut give way a bit. But not enough that I want to tell her about Moxie. I love my mom. I just don’t think she could handle it.

Her expression still uncertain, she slides off the bed and leaves my room, Joan Jett following her. I hide under the covers with my phone and find lots of stuff online about the walkout. Girls are debating back and forth about whether they should do it, and most boys are saying it’s stupid. I text Claudia and my other friends and ask them if they’re going to do it and they all write back variations on the same thing.

I think so. But I’m scared

Marisela posts that she’s tired of boys at East Rockport acting like assholes and treating girls like property. People agree with her but some boys start posting that she’s accusing all boys of being jerks, and a huge debate follows. Kiera posts a picture of Wonder Woman and a quote by a woman named Angela Davis. “When one commits oneself to the struggle, it must be for a lifetime.” I look her up and read about how Angela Davis was a black feminist who was imprisoned for fighting for her beliefs. It makes a walkout look pretty minor in comparison, to be honest.

I fight the urge to text Seth.

He doesn’t text me.

After a little while, my mom brings me some reheated lasagna from dinner the night before. I make myself eat a few bites.

“I feel like going to bed,” I say.

“It’s not even nine o’clock.”

“Yeah, but if I go to sleep, I don’t have to think about any of this,” I answer.

My mother nods and clears the plate, and soon I’m in my pajamas in the dark. But it’s a long time until I drift off, my mind unsettled and my heart pumping steadily as it circles back to tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

The walkout is supposed to be midway through my English class. According to the flyer, we should get up and leave when the bell rings to alert teachers to take the daily attendance.

It’s a loaded class for the walkout to happen. Not only will Seth be in there, but Mitchell will be there, too. Lucy would be there, of course, if she weren’t suspended.

It’s literally all everyone is talking about, and as my friends and I gather on the front steps to discuss it, we all get texts from Lucy.

When the walkout happens send me pics. I have an idea

When, not if. My hands go numb, but I manage to text back.

What’s the idea?

You’ll see—just send pics of all the girls walking out

“Think it’s gonna happen?” says Sara.

“I think something’s going to happen,” Claudia answers. “Some girls were posting some really intense stuff last night that made it sound like they’re committed.”

“So you’re going to do it?” asks Meg.

“I think so,” I answer. But now that it’s here, my stomach’s a rock. I think about getting suspended. Maybe even expelled. I picture myself standing in front of the school with five or six other girls. Then I remember the words of that freshman girl the other day.

“Wilson can’t expel us if we all walk out.”

The first bell rings and we all head in, but my mind is blank as we listen in class and go to our lockers during passing period and make eye contact in the hallways. The school feels electric. On edge. The teachers are all standing in the hallways in little clumps, whispering to each other. It’s the most engaged I’ve seen them all year.

I look for Seth but don’t find him.

I spot Mitchell Wilson and his fellow apes hanging out like every other day. Their loud boy voices, laced with Mountain Dew and the knowledge that the world belongs to them, ring through the halls, echoing off the walls, making my skin crawl.

If they walk, they’re gonna be so fucked.

They won’t do it. They don’t have the guts.

Finally, English class. Mr. Davies passes out a worksheet and clears his throat, then glances at the clock.

The seconds tick by.

I peer over at Seth, who walked in at the bell. When I look away I think I feel him looking at me, but I don’t look back.

Five minutes until 11:15.

“Can I get someone to read the passage?” Mr. Davies asks. He folds and refolds his arms. He grimaces and stares out at all of us, his expression sour.

No one volunteers. Finally, Mr. Davies calls on one of Mitchell’s friends, who starts reading some short passage in a halting voice.

“John … Steinbeck was an American author … who wrote … many novels. He is best known for his … Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath.”

Tick tick tick.

“Setting is an important part of … Steinbeck’s novels. Most of his stories … are set in … central and southern California.”

Tick tick tick.

My heart starts to hammer. One minute left. I want to scream the tension is so heavy.

“In 1962 … John Steinbeck won … the Nobel Prize in Literature. Steinbeck’s works regularly … touch on the concepts of … injustice.”

BUZZ.

There’s a collective jump, and Mr. Davies moves toward his computer to input attendance, like he expects nothing. Everyone is watching everyone else. I want to get up. I want to stand up. But I’m frozen. I look out into the hallway, hoping to see a ponytail floating by. I’m desperate to hear the sounds of girls’ voices as they gather together and march out of the building.

Mitchell Wilson snorts under his breath. Mitchell Wilson, who is almost certainly a rapist.

Get up, Vivian. Get up!

My leg muscles tense and then, just as I start to stand, I’m cut off.

By Emma Johnson.

Queen Emma. Cheer squad Emma. Vice president of the student council let’s-all-act-like-Texas-ladies Emma. That Emma.

She stands up, whips a Sharpie from her pocket, and—her china doll cheeks flushed with what I quickly perceive to be rage—she writes the word MOXIE down her left forearm.

Her hand is shaking.

Then she looks toward the back of the classroom. She stares at Mitchell with eyes full of a fury so awesome her face reminds me of Kathleen Hanna’s voice.

“Mitchell,” she says, her voice clear and cutting. “Fuck you.”

And she walks out.

She’s not two steps out the door before I get up and follow, my skin buzzing, my heart on fire. In that moment I don’t even care if any other girl is following me. All I know is that I won’t let Emma walk out alone.

She is halfway down the hallway before I catch up to her. There are a few other girls standing by the lockers, looking around a bit aimlessly, not sure what to do.

“Are you okay?” I ask Emma. She’s crying now, tears running down her cheeks. Her perfect eye makeup is smudged. Two tiny coal-black streams slide down her face. She wipes them away.

“I’m okay,” she says. “But what happens now?”

“It was you, wasn’t it?” I say. “Who made the flyer?”

“Yeah,” says Emma, nodding.

My first impulse is to hug her, but I’m not sure she wants to be touched.

“Let’s go out,” I say, my voice rising, so the other girls will hear. “Let’s head out toward the front steps of the school. We can figure it out there.”

“Thanks,” she says, sniffling.

The girls in the hallway follow me, and as we walk, more and more classroom doors start to open. I spy Kiera and Meg and Marisela and Amaya and Kaitlyn, their faces uncertain as they step out, then smiling as they see they’re not alone.

I see Claudia. She sees me. She sticks her tongue out, she’s so excited.

Our numbers start to grow, and quickly, too. At least half of the girls in East Rockport are walking out. Maybe more. As soon as other girls inside classrooms hear noises, they venture out. Teachers step into the hallways, shout at us that we’re going to be expelled.

Look, Wilson can’t expel us if we all walk out.

I see that freshman girl, too, grinning so big her face looks like it might split in half.

We keep marching, our feet trampling over Principal Wilson’s threats and our teachers’ warnings. We are marching because those words deserve to be run over. Steamrolled. Flattened to dust. We are marching in our Converse and our candy-colored flip-flops and our kitten heels, too. Our legs are moving, our arms are swinging, our mouths are set in lines so straight and sharp you could cut yourself on them.

Maybe we hope you do.

We don’t speak as we march. We don’t even whisper. We just move, our eyes on the ones in front us. Blond hair in ponytails and black hair in braids and brown hair and red hair, too. Hair cut pixie-style or held back with cheap barrettes or carefully styled into loose spiral curls that still smell of that morning’s dose of hair spray.

The only sound is the squeak of our feet on the floor. But if you listen hard enough, you can hear our heartbeat.

Now there’s the cha-chunk of the school’s heavy metal front doors opening. We see the light from the outside streaming into the main hallway, and we squint a little but we don’t stop marching. We don’t stop walking. We don’t stop heading outside.

We don’t back down.

As all of us gather on the front steps of the school, I lean into Emma.

“Do you want to say something?” I offer. “About why we’re here?”

“Yeah,” she says, and I see a bit of that vice principal of the student council in her starting to come out. She’s composing herself, taking deep breaths. “But will you stand with me?”

“Yes,” I say. “Of course.”

Girls watch as Emma and I take the top step. They gather in a tight knot around us.

“Hey, listen up!” I shout. “Emma’s got something to say!”

That’s when I see him. Seth. Off to the side by the front of the campus, apart from us girls. He’s standing there with a handful of other boys—some of the guys he sometimes eats lunch with. When he sees me looking at him, he nods. Then he gives me a thumbs-up, which is the corniest thing he’s ever done. I smile in return, then turn my attention back to Emma.

Emma looks out at the sea of girls in front of her and when she tries to speak, her voice cracks. I place my hand on her shoulder, and she looks at me, her eyes grateful.

“First I want to say thanks for coming out here,” she begins. “And I want to say that I didn’t want it to come to this. When Mitchell Wilson tried to assault me at a party last weekend…” Her voice breaks again. Then, from the back, I hear a girl shout, “We believe you!”

Emma squeezes her eyes shut, collects herself, then continues.

“I was able to get away. But then later when I tried to tell Principal Wilson, he wouldn’t listen. He told me that I’d imagined it! That it was nothing and to forget it. Well, I won’t forget it! And I don’t want the school to forget it either!”

Girls shout their approval at Emma’s words. They holler and clap and yell. I spy Claudia in the crowd, and her eyes are red from crying. My heart feels like it’s going to explode.

Suddenly we hear shouts behind us, and we turn to see Principal Wilson and Mr. Shelly and all the other administrators heading toward us like a snarling pack. Mr. Shelly has a clipboard, and he’s trying to write and walk at the same time. His jowls are shaking and his face is sweaty and red.

Principal Wilson has a fucking bullhorn in his hands.

“Girls, I order you to form a straight line so your names can be collected by Mr. Shelly,” he shouts into the bullhorn. “I am moving forward with suspensions for all of you as well as the process of expulsion.” He storms over to Emma and me.

“Emma,” he says, dropping the bullhorn to his side. “I told you this would be handled.”

“But you didn’t handle it, Principal Wilson,” Emma yells back, her hands balling up into fists. It’s jarring to see perfect Emma Johnson shout at authority like this.

And it’s pretty amazing, too.

I glance at the crowd of girls. Several of them are taking pictures with their phones.

“Am I to understand that you’re responsible for this Moxie group? Along with Lucy Hernandez?”

Emma frowns, confusion crossing her face.

“I planned this walkout, yes,” she says.

“And you were behind all the other Moxie activities?” Principal Wilson asks. “Along with Miss Hernandez?”

Emma shakes her head no, and I know it’s finally time. I turn and look Principal Wilson right in the eye, grateful for my height. I open my mouth and say as loudly as I can, “I started Moxie, Principal Wilson. I made the zines and the stickers, and I put them in the bathrooms. It was me.”

Emma’s eyes grow wide, and I hear a ripple of talk spread out among the crowd of girls. I know I’ve just doomed myself to never graduating from high school, but in that moment it’s all so worth it I wish I could say those words again for the first time.

“Wait,” says another voice, and my head turns to see Kiera moving up to the top of the steps. “Viv wasn’t the only girl behind Moxie. I helped organize it, too.”

Principal Wilson peers down at Kiera like he’s looking at a bug or smelling a fart. Kiera stares at him, unmoved.

“Kiera and Viv weren’t the only ones,” comes another voice from the crowd. I can tell without looking it’s Marisela. “I helped start Moxie.”

“Wait,” says another girl. “They aren’t the only ones. I helped, too.” It’s that freshman girl. The one who said Principal Wilson couldn’t punish all of us.

“I helped, too!” shouts another voice from deeper in the crowd.

It’s Claudia.

“Me, too!” yells another. And another. And one more and then another until each admission of guilt—each admission of proud ownership—trips over the next, and Principal Wilson is starting to lose his cool. He huffs loudly, snapping his gaze toward Mr. Shelly.

“Are you getting these names down?” he barks, and Mr. Shelly nods as he scribbles furiously on his clipboard.

“Look, Principal Wilson,” Emma says, raising her voice, “you don’t get it. We won’t be quiet anymore!” It’s then that I remember she’s the head of the cheerleading squad and the perfect person for this moment. She turns to face the crowd and cups her hands to her mouth.

“We are Moxie!” she shouts, her voice deep and rich. “We are Moxie!”

In an instant we are following along, clapping our hands 1-2-3.

“We are Moxie! We are Moxie!”

My palms are slick with sweat from the April sunshine and nerves and joy, but I clap and I shout, and I don’t care that the principal is steps away. And I know right now that if I live to be a hundred, I’ll always remember this.

I clap harder. I shout louder.

Principal Wilson grabs his bullhorn and starts shouting directions. We shout back, drowning him out. Our voices are so loud. So big. So much.

So beautiful.

Principal Wilson scoots over to the side to confer with Mr. Shelly and the other administrators. He points and gestures with his hands, desperate-seeming, and we keep shouting. We keep clapping. Finally, he grabs his bullhorn and yells at the top of his lungs.

“School is canceled for the remainder of the day. We will be moving forward with expulsion procedures for all of you. Exit the campus now!”

At this we erupt in a roar. It feels like a victory. We’ve won even if Principal Wilson is trying to get us to think we’ve lost. I turn and look at Emma Johnson, a girl I’ve hardly spoken to in almost three years of high school. A girl I always thought I had nothing in common with.

But really, she’s a girl from East Rockport. Just like me.

“Thank you, Vivian,” she says. And she reaches out to hug me. I hug her back, hard, and Principal Wilson’s desperate orders to disperse become background noise. Honestly, I can barely hear him.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

We scatter from campus as Principal Wilson barks over and over into his bullhorn that school is canceled. I lose sight of Emma in the crush of people. I lose sight of Seth, too. But Claudia grabs my hand and leads me to her Tercel. As soon as we shut the car doors, she turns to me, her car keys still in her hand.

“You made those issues of Moxie?” she asks, her eyes wide, like she’s seeing me for the first time even though she’s known me practically since birth.

“Yeah,” I say, the giddiness and chaos and shock of the afternoon still zipping through me.

“Wow,” she says, turning to stare out the front windshield, watching girls heading home, some of them still chanting about Moxie, still clapping their hands.

“Please don’t be mad I didn’t tell you,” I say, gripped with worry that Claudia won’t understand. “I didn’t tell anyone. Well, Seth knows. But only because he caught me putting the zines in bathrooms. And I did tell Lucy yesterday. But that’s only because I felt bad that she was taking so much of the blame for everything.”

Claudia turns her gaze back at me. I stop babbling. “Were you worried that I wouldn’t get it?” she asks. “Is that why you didn’t tell me?” I can’t tell if she’s hurt or curious.

“Maybe a little,” I admit. “But also I thought the more people that knew about it, the riskier it was.”

Claudia nods. “I get it. And really, back when you put out that first issue … maybe I wouldn’t have gotten it. At all.”

“So you’re not mad?”

“No,” Claudia says, shaking her head. “Just … stunned. But also … sort of proud. No, not sort of. Really proud.” And she gives me the biggest, most glowing smile.

“Even though maybe I’ve just gotten us all suspended? And maybe expelled?”

Claudia rolls her eyes. “Did you see how many girls were out there today? More than half the girls in the school. Hundreds of us. I don’t care how good Mitchell can throw a football. His dumb daddy isn’t going to get to kick us all out of school.”

I burst out laughing. “Look at you and your tough talk,” I tease, but really I’m just so relieved. Relieved that the secret’s out, that Claudia understands, that she thinks we won’t get in trouble.

Claudia shrugs, full of false modesty. “Want to head to your house? You can help me figure out how to spin this to my parents.”

“Yeah, my mom’s at work. Let’s go.”

Not long after we’re camped out on my bed with sodas and our phones and Joan Jett curled up between us.

And that’s when we realize Lucy Hernandez has gone viral.

Using the girls’ pictures and videos from the walkout, Lucy has crafted a blog post not just about this afternoon but about everything that’s happened at East Rockport High School over the past year. Everything from the over-the-top expensive pep rallies to the bump ’n’ grab game to the crazy, arbitrary dress code checks. She tracks all of Moxie’s activities from the bathrobes to the stickers to the walkout. She even includes pictures of the zines I made. And then she shares the post on every social media outlet possible.

Not only that, she also sends it to all of these feminist blogs and websites she likes—blogs and websites run by cool girls in New York City and Los Angeles. Girls who seem like they exist in some other alternate universe that is nothing like East Rockport, Texas.

But they start to pick up Lucy’s story.

And they share and reblog and repost.

By dinnertime, Moxie isn’t an East Rockport phenomenon. It’s not even a Texas phenomenon. It’s spreading so fast it doesn’t feel real.

SMALL-TOWN TEXAS GIRLS STAND UP TO SEXIST PRINCIPAL [WITH VIDEO]

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK—AND TELL THEIR SEXIST PRINCIPAL WHERE TO SHOVE IT!

EAST ROCKPORT HIGH SCHOOL PUTS THE GRRRRRR INTO GRRRL POWER

“Damn,” says Claudia as she reads the latest headlines. By now we’ve eaten a frozen pizza and moved on to ice cream straight from the container.

“Claudia says ‘damn,’” I tell Lucy over the phone, taking a spoonful of chocolate. “And she’s smiling really big.”

“Tell her thanks,” Lucy says. “Can you believe this?”

“Given how this year has gone, I guess sort of yes and sort of no,” I say. “Are you still grounded?”

“Yeah,” says Lucy. “Thank God my parents didn’t take my phone away. It’s how I shared all of this.”

“What’s going to happen next?” Claudia asks out loud, scrolling through her phone.

“Claudia wants to know what’s going to happen next,” I ask Lucy.

“I don’t know,” she answers. “But I do hope all this attention means Principal Wilson and Mitchell don’t get away with what happened to Emma. Or to anyone else.”

“Lucy,” I say, smiling into my phone, “you’re a hero.”

“Oh, whatever,” she says. “You’re the one who started Moxie.”

“I started it, but we all did it,” I say.

“Okay, I admit it. I’m a hero,” she says. “But now I have to go help clean up the kitchen.”

“I can’t believe you’re sitting there in your room and your parents aren’t even aware that you’ve become a global phenomenon.”

“Maybe just an American one,” Lucy argues.

“No, some girls in England are talking about you,” I say.

“Oh, shut up,” she says. But I hear pride in her voice. And amazement. “I’ll see you later.”

“Can’t wait.”

After Lucy and I hang up, Claudia stops studying her phone and tosses it aside. She takes a few more mouthfuls of chocolate ice cream and asks, “So what is going to happen next? With Wilson, I mean. I don’t think he’s going to expel us, but do you think he’s going to pretend this never happened?”

“I don’t think he can,” I say, checking my phone. “Hey, look. It’s starting to get picked up by local news stations.” I catch a glimpse of Seth in one of the shots on a local news site, and I scroll through my texts, hoping for one from him. But there’s nothing.

Claudia and I venture into the den with Joan Jett following, and that’s where my mom finds us not much later, sitting on the couch and flipping through the local channels, listening to the big-haired news anchors talk about what they’re referring to as “a major protest” at East Rockport High.

“I just heard something about this on the radio,” my mom says, her eyes focusing on the television screen. “Vivvy,” she says, her mouth opening, her eyes widening. “Sweetheart, is that you on TV?”

* * *

Mom sets her phone down on the kitchen counter and rubs at her ear.

“Well, I think I finally convinced Meemaw and Grandpa that you’re not going to prison,” she says. Curled up in a corner on the couch, I eye my mom, who’s been very quiet since I admitted to starting Moxie by making the zines—something that sparked Claudia’s urgent need to go home.

“Are they mad?” I ask, my voice small. Mom doesn’t answer, just walks over to the cabinet where she keeps a small bottle of bourbon. She drops two ice cubes into a juice glass—plink, plunk—and then pours a decent amount of amber liquid over them. Only after she takes a generous swallow does she answer.

“I don’t think they’re mad, Vivvy. Just shocked.” She heads into the den and curls up next to me on the couch. “The Vivian they know wouldn’t do something like this.”

“Are you mad?” I ask.

Sip. Another sip. My heart pounds.

“I think,” she says, her voice soft, her words carefully chosen, “that I’m finally realizing that you’re more my daughter than I ever realized. And that the Vivian I know is … growing up.”

I hug my knees to my chest. “Is that … a bad thing?” My voice cracks a bit, surprising me.

At this, my mom’s eyes turn glassy almost immediately. She presses her fingertips up to her eyes, then gives up. A few tears snake their way down her face.

“Mom, please don’t be mad,” I say, scooting toward her. I guess I didn’t expect my mom to be thrilled. But I didn’t expect her to be acting like whatever this is.

“Oh, Vivian, I’m not mad,” she says. “I mean, maybe, like, 10 percent mad. That you kept it all such a secret.” She pauses, her voice a little wounded. “You didn’t feel like you could tell me?”

“Mom, I’m sorry,” I say, shifting with guilt. “It’s not that I didn’t think I could. It’s just … something I wanted to do on my own. But it’s not because I didn’t think I could trust you with it.”

“Okay,” she whispers. “Just so long as you always feel you can tell me anything.”

“I know I can, Mom,” I say. And then, maybe to make her feel like she was involved all along, I tell her, “I got the idea from your box of Riot Grrrl stuff, you know.”

“I knew I should have hidden that box in the attic,” she says, rolling her red-rimmed eyes.

“So you’re not crying because you’re mad?” I ask.

My mom shakes her head. “No, I’m crying because … because … hell, I don’t know why I’m crying. Because I’m proud and surprised. And because I’m old and you’re young—but not so young anymore, it seems. Because life is weird sometimes, and just when I think I have it figured out something weird happens again.”

“So you’re really … proud?” I ask, twisting my mouth into a hopeful smile.

She eyes me over the glass of bourbon.

“Truthfully?” she says. “Yeah.”

My hopeful smile grows bigger.

She nods and takes another swallow from her glass. “Honestly,” she says, “I almost want Principal Wilson to try and expel you and all the other girls.” She laughs out loud all of a sudden, so loud she sends Joan Jett running out of the den. “If that asshole thinks he’s going to get half the girls in the school kicked out because he tried to cover up an attempted rape, he’s going to have to deal with me!” She punches an arm in the air, giddy.

“Okay, Mom, settle down,” I say.

My mother is about to answer me when the doorbell rings. It’s almost 9 o’clock at night.

“Is it John?” I ask, peering over my shoulder toward the front of the house.

“No, he’s still at work,” my mother says, heading toward the door. A few moments later she walks back into the den.

Seth is with her.

This fucking day.

“I’m sorry it’s late,” he says, glancing first at my mom, then at me. “I just really wanted to talk to Viv. In person.”

My mouth is dry. My arms have goose bumps. And Seth is standing there, looking at me with his dark eyes. I remember his thumbs-up from the walkout earlier today.

“Hey,” I say.

My mother’s eyes ping-pong between us until she finally speaks.

“Look, I might be a semi-cool mom or whatever, but you’re staying here in the den and I’m going to my bedroom,” she says. “I’ll have my door open halfway, by the way.” She gives me a knowing look and starts heading down the hallway before running back to grab the bottle of bourbon.

“So, hey,” Seth says after my mom leaves at last. He slides his hands into his jeans pockets.

“You want to sit down?” I ask him, and it hits me that I want him to sit down next to me so much. Like, I want him to sit down next to me for a really long time.

So Seth takes a seat on the couch, but he leaves a good foot or two of distance between us. He’s wearing the Black Flag T-shirt I like so much. He jiggles his knee. He gazes at our television even though it’s turned off.

I think he’s nervous.

“So…,” he says. “Some walkout, huh?”

“Yeah,” I say. “It was pretty crazy.”

“Really crazy. But really cool, too.”

I scoot a little closer to him. I nudge him gently with my shoulder. He manages to look at me.

“Thanks for walking out with us,” I say.

He nods slowly, slides his mouth into a soft grin, remembering.

“You should have seen Mitchell after you followed Emma out and other girls got up to join you,” he says. “He looked like someone had just puked up rotten eggs right in the middle of his lap.”

“I really wish I could have seen that,” I tell him. I inch the teeniest bit closer.

“If I had to describe it, I would say it was the look of someone who’s always been told he’s untouchable finally fucking realizing that he isn’t,” says Seth. “It was pretty glorious. And after that I just got up and walked out.”

I slide my hand toward Seth’s. I graze his knuckles with my fingertips.

“Is this okay?” I ask.

“Yeah,” says Seth.

I snake my fingers through his. His palms are sweaty. I don’t care. Every follicle on my scalp perks up as our hands touch. My heart speeds up. I glance at him and smile, and he smiles back.

“I’m sorry if I acted like a dumb ass,” Seth blurts out.

I smile. “You’re not a dumb ass,” I say.

“I shouldn’t have doubted what the flyer said. I should have tried to understand better what Moxie was all about.”

“Well,” I say, “I shouldn’t have expected you to be perfect.”

“Nobody is,” says Seth. “Especially not me. But I promise that from now on I’m going to try to listen better about the stuff I can’t totally understand because I’m a guy.”

“See, there you go,” I whisper, our eyes meeting. “You say you’re not perfect, but that answer makes me think you’re pretty close.”

We are millimeters apart now. I can smell his boyness. I can count the three freckles on his right cheek. I reach out with the hand that’s not holding his and touch them. Then I lean up and kiss them, too.

“Your mom’s in the back bedroom,” Seth says, his voice husky, his dark eyes glancing over my head for a moment.

“Okay,” I say.

Okay what?” Seth says.

“Okay then we’ll have to kiss very quietly,” I tell him.

“Like super stealth quiet?” he asks, leaning into me. My cheeks warm up, and my body thuds with anticipation.

“Like super intense, extra level stealth quiet,” I answer. Or rather, I try to answer. Because by the third or fourth word Seth is kissing me, and I’m kissing him, and all I can hope is that my mother stays in her bedroom for a while, because from the way Seth’s kisses make me feel, I don’t know how we’re ever going to stop.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

The last day of school is always a half day, so the last class of my junior year of high school is English with Mr. Davies, who has announced this week to extremely little fanfare that this will be his final year at East Rockport High School. He’s told us that he’s retiring to spend more time fishing.

I didn’t realize they allow fishing at Hunter’s Pub, which is where everyone in town knows Mr. Davies hangs out. But anyway.

So due to his impending retirement, Mr. Davies is spending these last hours packing up a few boxes and letting us talk and count the minutes to summer break. Lucy, Seth, and I have pushed our desks into a loose circle.

“God, how much longer?” Lucy announces as she doodles hearts and stars all over her hands with a blue ballpoint. “Hey, Viv,” she says, holding her hand up, “take you back?”

I grin a little and so does Seth.

“Yeah, it does,” I say. “I still remember how excited I was when I saw your hands that day.”

“What about me?” asks Seth, wounded.

“Oh, she flipped out about you doing it, trust me,” Lucy chimes in, and Seth cracks up and I roll my eyes.

The intercom crackles to life and Mr. Henriquez’s voice comes through the speaker. We half listen as he reminds us about cleaning out our lockers and leaving the school in a timely and orderly manner at the final bell.

“I want to close by thanking you once again for welcoming me to East Rockport High during these last few weeks of school, and I look forward to leading our school community in the fall,” he says. “Now go on and have a safe and productive summer!”

Amid a few sarcastic whoops and forced applause from our classmates, Lucy asks whether we think he’s really coming back.

“At the very least, Wilson won’t be back,” Seth says. “We know that much.”

After all the news coverage and Moxie becoming an Internet sensation, not to mention Principal Wilson’s actual attempt to expel more than half the girls in the school, it didn’t take long for the school board to get involved. Two weeks later, the fair citizens of East Rockport discovered the principal of their fine high school had spent the past few years funneling funds into pet projects like the football program and away from things like updated chemistry lab materials and sports equipment for girls’ teams. Some deal was struck and the details were kept hush-hush, and all we knew was that by mid-May Principal Wilson and Mitchell Wilson were both long gone. Mitchell deserved to have charges to be pressed against him, but they were never investigated, which pissed us all off. Overnight, the Wilson house was emptied out and a FOR SALE sign sprouted up in the front yard. The morning my mom walked into my bedroom reading the news that Principal Wilson was being replaced, I jumped up off the bed with such excitement I actually fell off. I didn’t care. I just laughed.

Of course, there had been the grumblings in school and around town about how the events probably ensured a losing football season this fall. But it was easy to ignore them with so many girls on Moxie’s side. And when Meemaw and Grandpa told me they were proud of me, I considered it an especially hard-won victory.

Mr. Shelly quit, too, along with a few other administrators who’d been close to Principal Wilson. And then Mr. Henriquez, the principal of one of the middle schools, was brought in to finish the year. So far he seemed okay. No dress code checks at least.

“Just five more minutes,” Lucy says, eyeing the clock. She caps her pen and shoves it in her backpack. “I have to go home right after school and finish boxing up my room.” Lucy’s mom and dad have finally found a place of their own, and Lucy is already planning a Moxie sleepover for the following weekend. She was sure to invite Kiera and Amaya, too, and Marisela and Jane and a few other girls. Lucy said she wanted to strategize for next year. Even if Mr. Henriquez turned out to be as okay as he seemed, she said, it was important to be prepared. “I mean, the patriarchy is more than one guy, right?” Lucy informed us at lunch. Claudia agreed and offered to bring lemon bars to the sleepover.

As the classroom clock ticks down the final moments, I glance at Emma Johnson sitting in her desk reading a paperback novel. Since the walkout, in many ways she’s still been Emma Johnson. Still gorgeous. Still perfectly groomed and organized and high achieving. The MOXIE she wrote down her forearm in Sharpie eventually faded, and she kept quiet for the last few weeks of the year. But I noticed that not long after the walkout she wasn’t eating with the cheerleaders as often, sometimes choosing to sit on the outskirts of some other group. After the accusations against Mitchell were swept under the rug, she seemed to distance herself even more.

When Emma saw me in the hallways or in class, she would look me in the eyes. Smile. We’d even said hi once when we ran into each other in the bathroom. But after that heady, explosive moment on the front steps of East Rockport High, we’d retreated to our own camps, not really talking to each other much again.

Emma must sense me looking at her because she meets my eyes. I blush slightly, but Emma raises her hand a little in a brief hello and smiles. Something inside tugs at me.

Then, with only seconds left, a few students start a countdown. “10 … 9 … 8 … 7…” and soon the room is erupting in cheers.

“Want to go eat somewhere?” Seth asks, getting up from his desk.

“I think I want to go talk to Emma,” I say. “Okay?”

“Yeah,” says Seth. “Let’s hang out tonight maybe?”

“Definitely,” I say with a smile, and after giving me a quick kiss, Seth offers to drop Lucy off at her house. I scoot between the desks and hurry out the classroom door to catch up with Emma. When I call her name, she turns to look at me.

“Hey, Vivian,” she says. Some guy pushes past her in the crowded hallway, jostling up against her shoulder. She frowns and presses herself against the wall.

“Lately, I’m not sure if that’s on purpose or by accident,” Emma says. “There’s a certain faction that’s pretty pissed about what I did.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” I say. I ignore the part of me that finds it odd to be talking to a girl I once considered so elite that I imagined her locker to be lined in gold. “You okay?”

Emma’s cornflower-blue eyes peer up at the ceiling for a moment, then back at me. Her eyes are glassy. She blinks and one fat tear escapes. She catches it with a perfectly manicured finger.

“I’ve been better,” she says. “I mean, I’m not falling apart or anything. But I’ve been better, too, you know?”

“Yeah,” I say. “I know what you mean.”

The squeaks of shoes on cracked linoleum floors, the slams of locker doors, the shrieks and shouts of teenagers finally acquiring freedom after months of imprisonment—the noises surround us as we stand there, looking at each other.

“I have to head to my locker, do you?” Emma asks.

“No, I cleaned mine out already,” I tell her. “But I’ll come with you if you want.”

“Okay,” she says, her lips parting into a smile. “Thanks.”

Emma’s locker is mostly empty, but she has a neat stack of pastel-colored spirals and loose papers on the top shelf. She pulls a mirror with a pink frame off the inside of the locker door and places it on top of the stack, then takes everything out. My eyes spy the first issue of Moxie.

“Hey,” I say. “I recognize that.”

“Yeah,” says Emma, “I have them all.”

My face must read incredulous because Emma says, “I was curious. I was too chicken to admit it at first since my crowd wasn’t really into it.”

“So you didn’t want to speak to all of us at that assembly after the bathrobe thing?”

Emma wrinkles her nose. “No, I didn’t. But Principal Wilson sort of bullied me into it, I guess. Just like he’d bullied me into running for vice president instead of president of student council the year before.”

“Wait, are you kidding me?” I ask. But Emma shakes her head no, then tells me how Principal Wilson told her having a boy as head of student council would give the council more authority overall.

“He said vice president was perfect for a female leader,” says Emma. “And I didn’t want to cause trouble, so I did what he said.” Then a tiny smile works its way onto her face. “I did something else, though,” she adds.

“What?” I ask.

“I was the one who put the Moxie stickers on his truck.”

She grins wide, revealing her model-perfect teeth. My own mouth drops open in shock.

“You seriously did?”

“I really did!” she says, giggling. “And the asshole never found out either.”

Witnessing Emma Johnson curse reminds me of the one time I overheard Meemaw say shit. (She’d dropped an entire Stouffer’s chicken enchiladas dish on the floor and it had spilled everywhere.) It’s equal parts weird and hilarious and awesome.

Emma closes her locker. The hallways have cleared out by now, and we start heading down the mostly empty main hallway toward the front doors. It’s the same hallway we marched down side by side, weeks ago during the walkout. I remember Emma and me walking together, tears flowing down her face, my heart pounding, something really happening.

“You got plans for the summer?” I ask.

“I’m lifeguarding at the pool again,” says Emma as we walk. “And working on my college essays. What about you?”

I shrug. “Not sure, really. I might help out at the urgent care center where my mom is a nurse. They need someone to work in their records room. It’s a little extra money anyway.”

“And you’ll spend time with your boyfriend, yeah?” Emma asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” I say, grinning. It’s easy to talk to Emma Johnson, I realize. She’s just a nice girl who goes to my high school. That’s probably all she’s ever been.

We finally reach the main doors of East Rockport High, and my skin gets goose bumps like it can still sense the energy of the walkout all these weeks later. Like the energy has been caught in the school’s atmosphere. Like Kathleen Hanna and the Riot Grrrls said, it’s an energy that is a revolutionary soul force made by girls for girls.

I hope like hell it’s here to stay.

I push on the heavy door, and Emma and I head out. “Hey,” I say, shielding my eyes from the Texas sun, “next weekend my friend Lucy is having a sleepover at her house.” We’re standing on the front steps now. Emma slides a pair of fancy sunglasses out of her purse and slips them on.

“Lucy’s the new girl who put everything online, right?” Emma asks.

“Yeah.”

“I like Lucy,” says Emma, grinning.

“She likes you,” I say. “Anyway, we were wondering if maybe you want to come? There’s going to be some other girls there, too. Girls who were involved in Moxie this year. We’re going to, like, figure out a way to keep things going next year. I mean, even though Wilson’s gone…”

“Oh, yeah,” says Emma, nodding like I don’t even need to finish the sentence. “Just because he’s gone doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to do.”

“So you’d be into it? Coming to the sleepover?”

“You want me there?” Emma says. “Even though I’m, like, head cheerleader?” And the way she asks it—the way her voice is full of longing and doubt and just a touch of self-deprecation—is all I need to predict that Emma Johnson and I are going to become good friends.

“Totally we want you there,” I say. “Moxie is for every girl. Cheerleaders, too.”

“Okay, cool,” says Emma. “That would be really cool. Actually, to be totally honest, I have some ideas if you want them.”

“You mean Moxie ideas?” I ask.

“Yeah,” says Emma, her cheeks reddening. “But whatever. You can hear them at the sleepover. Or never. I mean, well, when I was planning the walkout, I made, this, like, Excel spreadsheet with some basic plans.”

Of course she did. She is Emma Johnson after all.

“I would love to see this spreadsheet,” I tell her, grinning.

“Yeah?”

“I really would,” I say.

“Well, I have my mom’s car,” Emma says, motioning toward the student lot. “You want a lift? Maybe we could go eat. I mean, if you have time.”

I smile at Emma. Of course I have time. It’s the summer, with long, lazy days ahead of me. Ahead of us. Perfect for dreaming. Perfect for scheming. Perfect for planning how Moxie girls fight back.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

Dearest Reader,

When I first became interested in feminism and the women’s movement back in the dark ages of the early to mid ’90s, the Internet was not available to the average person. Were it not for Sassy

magazine (look it up!) and my college experience, I might have remained clueless for too long about how inspiring, rewarding, and, yes, how joyful

it can be to live your life as a feminist.

Now we have the Internet, which, in addition to providing many cute videos of kittens and puppies who are BFFs, also provides info about feminism. Following, in no particular order, are some resources I personally love. I have taken care to choose resources that support an intersectional feminist viewpoint and welcome all ladies, including girls of color, girls with disabilities, queer girls, and transgender girls.

feministing.com

rookiemag.com

bitchmedia.org

therepresentationproject.org

bust.com

thefbomb.org

scarleteen.com

If you want to get a good old-fashioned book in your hands, I highly recommend Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters

and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists.

If you want to watch an interesting documentary, I recommend She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.

And if you’d like more info about Riot Grrrl, check out the documentary The Punk Singer or read Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution.

There’s lots of fun stuff online that’s easy to find, too, including interviews and videos. Just search for Riot Grrrl.

If you’re interested in living your life as a Moxie girl and meeting other girls like you, check out moxiegirlsfightback.com or send an email to [email protected]

And finally, if you or someone you know needs information about sexual assault, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) at 1-800-656-HOPE. You can also go to rainn.org for more information or to use the online hotline.

Thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to get to know Viv and her friends. Always remember that Moxie Girls Fight Back!

xoxoxo,

Jennifer Mathieu

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my mother for buying the book Girls Can Be Anything by Norma Klein and reading it to me when I was little.

I would like to thank all the Moxie girls and women I have met along the way who inspire me daily.

Thank you to Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill for creating songs that I love as much at forty as I did at twenty. Especially “Rebel Girl” and “Feels Blind.” xoxoxoxo

A million thanks to my wonderful editor, Katherine Jacobs, for her continued brilliance and care.

I am forever grateful to my amazing agent, Kerry Sparks, and the entire team at Levine Greenberg Rostan for always looking out for my best interests and moving mountains when necessary.

Thank you to the entire team at Macmillan and Roaring Brook Press, especially Mary Van Akin and Johanna Kirby, two of the Moxiest ladies in the publishing business.

A big thanks to the faculty, staff, and students of Bellaire High School for their encouragement and support of my second career. I am Cardinal Proud!

Un abrazo muy fuerte for the lovely Domino Perez for reading over portions of an early draft.

Many thanks to Dee Gravink for his small-town Texas stories, including the one about cruising the funeral home.

So many thanks to all the friends who support me on this writing journey, especially Kate Sowa, Jessica Taylor, Julie Murphy, Christa Desir, Summer Heacock, Tamarie Cooper, Karen Jensen, Leigh Bardugo, Ava Dellaira, Emmy Laybourne, the YAHOUs as well as Valerie Koehler, Cathy Berner, and all the lovely people at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.

Thank you to my family members who continue to be my biggest fans, with an extra special thank you to my wonderful husband, Kevin, who knows that when a father takes care of his own child, it’s not called babysitting. I couldn’t do any of this without you. Texas-sized love to you and Elliott forever.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Mathieu started writing stories when she was in kindergarten and now teaches English to high school students. She won the Teen Choice Debut Author Award at the Children’s Choice Book Awards for her first novel, The Truth About Alice. She is also the author of Devoted and Afterward. She lives in Texas with her husband, son, dog, and cat. You can sign up for email updates here.

Also by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice

Devoted

Afterward

The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:

Names: Mathieu, Jennifer, author.

Title: Moxie: a novel / Jennifer Mathieu.

Description: First edition. | New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2017. | Summary: In a small Texas town where high school football reigns supreme, Viv, sixteen, starts a feminist revolution using anonymously-written zines.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016057288 (print) | LCCN 2017028191 (ebook) | ISBN 9781626726345 (Ebook) | ISBN 9781626726352 (hardcover) | ISBN 9781250104267 (pbk.)

Subjects: | CYAC: Feminism—Fiction. | High schools—Fiction. | Schools—Fiction. | Sexism—Fiction. | Zines—Fiction. | Mothers and daughters—Fiction. | Texas—Fiction.

Classification: LCC PZ7.M4274 (ebook) | LCC PZ7.M4274 Mox 2017 (print) | DDC [Fic]—dc23

DMU Timestamp: June 19, 2022 06:44