Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking: A 14 Day MysteryFeatured
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.
This is a book where the setting becomes a character in the book. I’ve only been to Boston once recently, but the details of the city are excellent and add a lot to the story. The theft is based on one that really occurred, but as it has not yet been solved, this story is all conjecture about what might have happened. Moxie is fun, and her need to explore on her own is tempered nicely by the concern shown by her mother and grandmother when she does. I do like this author’s other books and would be very happy if Moxie were to show up in another mystery book. Fans of Beil’s Red Blazer Girls will be glad to take their sleuthing skills to Boston.
That said, readers should not try these situations on their own!
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.
What Left Me Wanting More:
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.
The Final Verdict:
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.