Margot Mertz For The Win by Carrie McCrossen & Ian McWethy: Book Review

Thank you to Hardie Grant Books for supplying me with an advance review copy of this book.

Margot Mertz is back and she’s got yet another battle ahead, but hopefully this time she can keep her hands clean.

Margot Mertz For The win sees readers reunite with the passionate, yet socially awkward teenage tech whiz; Margot Mertz. After closing the doors to her internet clean-up business Margot is determined that she can still use her skills to make a difference and avoid the moral ambiguities that chased her last year.

To put some more legitimate extra-curriculars on her college application, Margot volunteers for a state senate campaign and finds herself actually enjoying it. An added bonus? The candidate is the father of Avery Green, who she’s definitely-not-absolutely still pining for after they decided to be ‘just’ friends.

While her interest in politics has been piqued, Margot finds herself roped into another campaign, to determine Roosevelt High’s school president. Both campaigns are going great and she might even be making some new friends… until a blackmail plot emerges and the opponent for the race to the president makes Margot question if she can stand up for what she believes in, and keep her hands clean.

Women in IT and security

The Margot Mertz series is a fun romp but serves the important role of representing different roles available to women in fiction. There’s well-identified gap in women in IT and cyber security (and many other fields), but often not an acknowledgement of the perceptions that lead to this.

Security and IT don’t have to be boys’ clubs, and it’s exciting to see more and more authors challenge antiquated ideas of womanhood and expand representation as result.

Margot Mertz For the Win, and the first book, Margot Mertz Takes It Down deliver an authentic portrayal of the difficulties of being a young woman and encourages readers to seek their passions without judgement. Unlike many female characters in young adult fiction, Margot knows what she’s good at, and there’s an irresistible likability to her well-meaning (but sometimes misplaced) determination to use her skills.

This isn’t the story of her figuring out what her passions are (and many young people already know what their passions are too) it’s largely about figuring out how those passions and skills can function in a world that is complicated and has many barriers—many of which are rooted in inequality.

Revenge Porn vs Political Integrity

This series continues to refuse to shy away from topical issues and handles them in a way that demonstrates the authors’ commitment to not ‘baby’ young readers. Ideas are interrogated and different ethical lenses are applied to give characters what feels like proper development in the context of a fun and engaging plot.

Key to this is that we see a progression of the effect of the events of the first book.

In the first book, Margot took on a revenge porn site running rampant across her school. In this instalment, we see that the effects of the events surrounding this are ongoing. Relationships have changed as a result and new avenues must be explored.

In particular, Margot must work to repair the damage she inflicted on her relationship with Avery Green, her love interest. She also has to go beyond her comfort zone to make new friends after her internet cleaning job left her isolated. She’s far from perfect, but her candid acknowledgment of this throughout the book is endearing.

This acknowledgment of complexity is refreshing to see, as the danger could be for the events of the first book to be neatly tidied away in favour of focusing on the sequel’s topic of political integrity. Instead, prior events are deftly referenced and the overall impression is an awareness that things are hardly ever simple. Given that Margot is also in her senior year and approaching a time of change in her life with the move from high school to college, this growth feels rewarding for readers returning to the series.

In the current global political climate, this is an enjoyable read that engages with many ideas that many young people are already thinking about.

It’s significant that the authors are able to pull off an engaging, funny, and thought-provoking read that doesn’t talk down to its audience but rather acknowledges the inherent value young people have to add to political discourse.

I highly recommend picking up a copy, especially if you enjoyed the first Margot Mertz book!

Do you have any book recommendations featuring women in IT? Share them in the comments.

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