I could identify with Moxie’s desire to reinvent herself: I tried the same thing when I went to high school, except that my solution to the “weird name” dilemma was to change my name rather than my personality. However, this was short-lived: on the first day of classes, the only girl who knew me in the whole school shrieked out my new name in the hallway and I knew instantly that I wasn’t destined to become a Laura (my middle name). In any case, it was easier to be an Avis in my English high school than it had been in my French elementary school.*
But back to the book. Although I found the girls Moxie met at school to be a bit stereotypical, the two teachers in the novel, Mr. Tate and Mrs. Hay, are engaging, fully developed and quirky characters—not surprisingly, they were my favourites. Mr. Tate, her piano teacher, gives Moxie some of the best advice I’ve ever heard when he tells her he wants her to tackle Variation 28 of the Goldberg Variations by Bach (which is apparently “the iceberg to the Titanic of many a hopeful virtuoso”**). He says:
[To tackle Variation 28], you have to leave the comfort of those ten pieces you play perfectly and be willing to get messy. Be comfortable with the sound of your own struggle as you try to work it out, even if it sounds like you’re practicing with mittens on. Let it be a work in progress. The only way you’re going to learn how to play it is to learn how not to play it first.** (pp. 67-68)This is sound advice whenever you’re learning something new, especially if you’re a perfectionist, as I am, and hate making mistakes.
Unfortunately, I found that a few of the plot twists were fairly predictable and some of the embarrassing things that happen to Moxie were a bit over the top (I especially didn’t like the physical comedy situations she found herself in, but then I’ve never been a fan of physical comedy). However, they may appeal more to younger readers (this book is intended for ages 10 and up). In any case, the payoff at the end of the book more than makes up for any of the book’s shortcomings: it is simply brilliant (and brought tears to my eyes). The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt is a fun book that doesn’t take itself too seriously but manages nonetheless to impart an important message about the value of being yourself.
Thank you to Tina at Bookshipper for giving me this book to read.
*In French, the word avis means opinion, advice or notice (and is pronounced ah-vee).
**The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and may not be exactly what appears in the final book.
Other review: 5 Minutes for Books (scroll down) • Booknut • Bookshipper • Semicolon (scroll down)