Review: Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Moxie and the Art of Rule BreakingMoxie and the Art of Rule Breaking: A 14 Day Mystery by Erin Dionne
Published by Dial BFYR on July 11, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

For fans of The Westing Game and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler comes a clever, treasure-hunt mystery based on a real-life art heist.

Moxie Fleece knows the rules and follows them--that is, until the day she opens her front door to a mysterious stranger. Suddenly Moxie is involved in Boston's biggest unsolved mystery: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist. Moxie has two weeks to find the art, otherwise she and the people she loves will be in big-time danger.

Her tools? Her best friend, Ollie, a geocaching addict who loves to find stuff; her Alzheimer's suffering grandfather, Grumps, who knows lots more than he lets on; and a geometry proof that she sets up to sort out the clues.

It's a race against the clock through downtown Boston as Moxie and Ollie break every rule she's ever lived by to find the art and save her family.

First Sentence: “You know that line about being ‘saved by the bell’?”

Now that I’ve read Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking, I can fully appreciate this adorable cover, because it fully captures this book. The only inaccurate part is that Moxie’s best friend Ollie is Asian (though I guess this guy could be) and overweight, which I definitely do not think he is. However, the items in purple are part of the plot and that is exactly how Moxie dresses, crazy tights and all. If you could see her from the front, she’d be wearing a concert shirt for sure. Like the cover suggests, Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking is a fun, action-packed middle grade novel with plenty of hijinks.

As her name suggests, Moxie has a lot of spirit, courageous and determined. The novel opens with the doorbell ringing. Though she’s not supposed to open the door to strangers, she does without thinking. A redheaded woman stands on the doorstep, asking after her grandfather, who now lives in an old folks’ home, as Alzheimer’s slowly takes his memories. Because this woman is dressed in weather-inappropriate clothing and because of her grandpa’s past, Moxie sends the woman away, nervous about the woman’s declaration that Sully Cupcakes, notorious mobster wants his stuff back.

Moxie’s grandfather, affectionally known as Grumps, had a bit of a shady history. He had ties with the mob and worked with the criminal underbelly of the city. His job as a carpenter gave him access to a lot of places and made him a good way to launder money. Up til now, Grumps’ criminal past has been just stories, but now Moxie really has to confront who he was and the impact of his shady dealings. The relationship between Grumps and Moxie is touching, especially the way she visits him every week, even though it’s painful the way he sometimes isn’t there mentally.

Together with her allergy-prone friend Ollie, Moxie has to solve the mystery of an art heist that took place over 20 years ago in 1990 (wow, does that make me feel old) in two weeks. Along the way, there’s some fun with geocaching, daring stunts, and parental disapproval. There are themes of family and friendship making up the backdrop, but the mystery and adventure elements take a front seat.

Though a fun read, I did have some concerns with Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking. Mainly, the fact that it was Moxie caught up in the middle of this felt contrived. Why on earth would the redhead go to Moxie, an eighth grader, rather than her mother or grandmother, who are much more likely to know where the art is hidden? A grown woman threatening an eighth grader in this way was awkward. I could see an evildoer threatening someone so young, but more as motivation for an adult to do something, not to get the young teen to solve the decades old mystery. Plus, the redhead didn’t even warn Moxie not to tell anyone, so it’s not like she went to the kid because the adults would call the authorities. That just didn’t make sense to me.

Those who enjoy light-hearted, action-heavy mysteries will likely enjoy Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking, particularly if they can avoid getting caught up in some of the smaller plot details. Also of note is that there is a lot of exploration of Boston, so it’ll be a great read for anyone really familiar with the city.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Good music is never out of season.”

6 responses to “Review: Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking”

  1. Amy says:

    This sounds really cute and fun. It does seem like some things were a bit silly, but I tend to not let things bother me as much in MG books since they are meant for younger people. I always pick out unrealistic things, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. (Hubs does hate it when we watch a movie though and I point out all the stuff that logically couldn’t really happen in real life lol!)

    • Christina says:

      True. I think suspension of disbelief is easier when you’re young than as an adult. It’s got a real Mrs Basil E vibe with how easy it is to sneak into places. Haha.

      Bahaha, I love that you do that to your hubs.

  2. Although it will certainly take more than a little suspension of disbelief on my part, this novel sounds like so much fun that I want to read it anyway! Aside from her absolutely adorable (and apparently apt) name, I love the idea of Moxie becoming embroiled in a scandal involving an old heist committed by her grandfather in the ’90’s. (Oh God, is that a grey hair I see? Like you, this book’s timeline is making me feel very old.) I’m definitely going to be keeping my eye out for this one.

    Great review, Christina! 😀

  3. “For fans of THE WESTING GAME?!’ OMG. Childhood favorite! I do believe I need to read this now 🙂

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