Review: Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno

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Marin is a smart, driven, popular girl – she’s headed for Brown when she graduates and has a brilliant career as a journalist ahead of her. Especially in the eyes of English teacher Mr Beckett. He spends a lot of time around Marin, and she thinks it’s harmless . . . until he kisses her.
No one believes Marin when she tells them what happened, so she does the only thing she can: she writes an article called ‘Rules for Being a Girl’ for the school paper to point out the misogyny and sexism that girls face every day. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and rewrite her own rules.

Thank you to Macmillan for providing me with an Advanced Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review! All views are my own.

This book truly shocked me. I was lucky enough to be sent a proof copy at work, and honestly looked and it and thought ‘eh, not for me’. But I started to hear good things about it, found the synopsis more intriguing than expected, and thought ‘it looks like a quick read, just give it a go’. So I picked it up on Saturday morning and had finished it just over 24 hours later.

I was quickly drawn into Marin’s story. The first time I sat down to read it, I read 62 pages, and found myself wanting to pick the book up again soon after. It was such a compelling read, which was how I found myself flying through it and desperate to finish. I soon began to expect a book similar to Moxie – which unfortunately wasn’t quite for me – but this was so much better in my opinion. If you liked Moxie, Rules of Being a Girl is it’s bigger, more established and grown up sister. I loved it.

What hit me most about this book is how relevant it seemed. I think there are certain comments or aspects that every girl can relate to, and that’s why it made me so freaking angry. I’ve got to tell you, I did not expect this book to make me so angry I was almost shaking. But it did. It made me angry for things I have experienced, things I’m sure my friends have, and that many girls have witnessed in their teens. It made me feel seriously uncomfortable, upset and downright pissed on Marin’s behalf.

The rollercoaster of emotions pulled me along for the ride, but there were so many other aspects of this novel that made me love it even more. Even though Marin’s friendship with Chloe made me angry too, I loved the way it was written, and the plot twist at the end (I literally gasped out loud), made me love it all the more. Marin’s family were amazing, and the friendships she had with them were excellent. Some of the conversations she has with her parents and sister really warmed my heart. The romance that eventually blooms but in no way dominants Marin’s story was brilliantly written too, and I couldn’t help but love it because the boy in question reminded me so much of my boyfriend and reminded me of how lucky I am.

Marin herself was a brilliant role model to teenage girls out there, and she demanded respect over and over again. She was not afraid to stand up for what she believed in, and that made me so proud of her. Other things worthy to note is this book was feminist without hating men, which was one of the things that let me down with Moxie but totally wasn’t included in Rules of Being a Girl. It was exactly what I look for in myself and in feminist literature. It was also diverse as hell in subtle ways and I loved that.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 3

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Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. Viv’s mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Honestly, I understand why everyone loved this book so much. And I definitely enjoyed it. But it’s just not up there for me…and honestly, I felt like it had a lot of problems. Really? Feminism is great. It’s brilliant. But have you ever thought it’s going too far the other way? I believe more in equal-ism than feminism. Girls are not better. We suffer the same, we should have the same opportunities. 

I understand how important this book is, I really do. And I can’t disagree that sometimes being a woman can still feel different than being a man. But I have to say that the biggest problem I had with Moxie was that it very much overshadowed men, and I would constantly feel myself thinking ‘men suffer too. Not all men do this to woman. They shouldn’t be grouped, and they shouldn’t be discounted. It’s so unfair.’

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.”

Other than all of these issues, I did enjoy actually reading this book. The characters are pretty cool, and I loved the focus on family and friendship groups. It’s always good to be able to find out about parents and grandparents, which was great and gave the book an interesting dynamic. 

Even though the plot was pretty predictable, there was enough ups and downs to keep me interesting. I did feel the need to keep reading and find out what was going to happen to Moxie. 

But I also have to say that the issues were so many that it felt…forced? Like, I understand that girls go through some sh*t. But to have one issue after another with absolutely no support from any kind of authority felt so unrealistic? 

“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.”

Overall, very very mixed thoughts on this one. In one way, it’s a step in the right direction, and we do need more books like this. But it’s also in the danger of taking the subject a little too far, and could be incredibly damaging to young girls and their views of guys.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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