Moxie’s mother has a lot of house rules, but the number one, most important rule is that you do not talk about family to outsiders. When the woman with the red hair turns up at her front door demanding something from Moxie’s grandfather, Grumps, she knows this means trouble–serious trouble. Grumps was “connected,” so anything she wants from him is almost certainly illegal. And the red-haired woman has made it clear that she expects Moxie to get the stuff–whatever it is–for her, or the consequences will be dire.
Moxie can’t talk to her mother, because she doesn’t want to put her in danger. She can’t talk to the police, because she doesn’t want to get Grumps in trouble. And Grumps has Alzheimers and lives in a nursing home. On good days, he won’t tell Moxie anything about what the red-haired lady wants. On bad days, he doesn’t even remember who Moxie is.
Moxie and her friend Ollie are on their own to solve this mystery. They’ve got fourteen days to deliver the stuff to the red-haired lady–but finding what they’re looking for turns out to be the easy part. Getting it out is a completely different story.
Moxie and Ollie are relatable, well drawn characters. The story, while mildly far-fetched, grabs the reader and doesn’t let go, and Dionne did an excellent job of capturing the emotions of a kid who wants desperately to protect her family against sinister enemies. The book serves as a love letter to the city of Boston, which is almost as important a character as the kids. Fast-paced and engaging, this book will have even reluctant readers frantically turning pages.
Review by Kate Sweeney
Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne; Dial; c2013