Published in 2019, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow has lived on my to-read shelf for much too long. Deciding to read it based on my love of Harrow’s 2020 book The Once and Future Witches, I was not disappointed. The Ten Thousand Doors of January contains many elements that I enjoy: magical realism, fantasy, antiquities, multiverses, books, and strong-willed women.
January Scaller just wants to find her place in the world. Growing up as the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, January grew up roaming multiple sprawling mansions filled to the brim with peculiar and mysterious treasures. Her father travels the world hunting antiquities to add to Mr. Locke’s collection and as a result, he is seldom home with January. Mr. Locke treats her as well as can be expected, but January never quite fits in. She is instead largely ignored, while simultaneously given fancy clothes and is groomed as yet another piece of his collection. She feels out of place and just wants to find where she truly belongs. Mr. Locke treats her as a precious treasure to be trotted out in front of his rich friends. He can mold her into whatever he wants. January and her father become increasingly separated from each other, leaving January to feel imprisoned in this sprawling mansion and longing to see her father.
One day while January is looking around the rooms, she finds a strange book. The more she reads the book, the more she begins to see that there are other worlds out there full of breathtaking impossibilities. It tells the story of secret doors hidden everywhere that lead to other worlds full of danger, love, and adventure. One story has a deep pull on January. It becomes increasingly difficult for January to separate herself from the book as that one story has woven itself deep into her life.
This book is also available in the following format:
“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. 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.” – Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu is a young adult novel about a teenager starting a feminist revolution in her Texas high school. The administration’s, as well as the student body’s, responses to this revolution play a very large part in this book.
Vivian Carter is annoyed. It may have taken her a while to want to do anything about it, but she is fed up. The football team can do no wrong and it has to stop. The boys on the football team are getting away with rampant sexual harassment of the girls in the school while the administration sits by and does nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Instead of punishing the boys, the administration has instead ramped up sexist dress code enforcements: pulling girls out of class and forcing them to wear giant gym uniforms. There doesn’t seem to be an actual dress code that they are following, but the girls are bearing the brunt of the blame. In addition to the increased number of dress code checks, the guys in the school are also harassing the girls in the hallway with violating games they make up. Combined with disgusting, gross, and degrading comments made by the guys during class that the teachers don’t punish and Vivian is done. The guys have been getting away for too much for too long. It’s time for a change.
Needing to blow off steam, but not wanting to get in trouble, Vivian remembers the box of zines that her mother has in her closet. Her mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s. She was tough and didn’t put up with bad behavior from anyone. Drawing from the strength she finds in her mother’s memory box, Viv creates a feminist zine that she distributes to her classmates, anonymously of course. This zine was just meant as a way for her to vent her anger, but other girls start responding to it. The more popular the zine becomes, the more the girls of her high school band together across cliques and popularity. It gains traction throughout the school and soon Moxie Girls are planning events and protests of their own. If the administration won’t take action, the Moxie Girls will demand it.
After all, MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!
This book has also been made into a movie on Netflix directed by Amy Poehler.