Zevin’s writing always feels smart and witty and she’s not afraid to take stylistic risks. While Young Jane Young isn’t YA, it’s a story told by several generations of women — centered around a very public scandal involving one of them — that I think will appeal to readers who love stories about real (flawed, strong, funny) female characters.
Check out my review of Young Jane Young below!
Young Jane Young
by Gabrielle Zevin
Published on August 22, 2017 by Algonquin
Source: received a free ARC of this title at BookExpo
Synopsis adapted from Goodreads: Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida, makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss. When the affair comes to light, the Congressman doesn’t take the fall, but Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins. She becomes a late‑night talk show punchline; she is slut‑shamed, labeled as fat and ugly, and considered a blight on politics in general.
How does one go on after this? In Aviva’s case, she sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. She tries to start over as a wedding planner, to be smarter about her life, and to raise her daughter to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, she decides to run for public office herself, that long‑ago mistake trails her via the Internet like a scarlet A.
My review: Young Jane Young
At its most simplistic, Young Jane Young is a story about a girl who becomes part of a scandal, the kind of scandal that follows her around for a long time. As the synopsis reveals, this is a story you’ve heard maybe a thousand times: a young woman sexually involved with her much older boss.
One thing I loved about this book was that it didn’t focus much on the sordid details of the affair or the obvious and immediate fallout, but on the small repercussions that Jane’s actions had years later on her life and on others’. The book is filled with interesting, complex female characters. It’s not told chronologically, but in a series of different points of view from four different women.
The book actually begins years after the scandal. We hear from Jane’s mother, Rachel, who is now in her 60s and trying online dating. Then we meet Jane, who’s helping a bride plan her wedding. (But, based on life experience, Jane clearly wishes she could tell her to call the whole thing off.) We hear from Jane’s daughter, Ruby, through a series of hilarious emails to a pen pal. There’s a fourth POV from another woman who plays an integral part in the story. I think my only criticism is that I wish that Franny (the bride-to-be) had been given a point of view too. Finally, right near the end, Jane tells her version of the affair. (This part was told in a chose-your-own-adventure format that initially made me think my ARC was missing pages. But I figured it out.)
The story also serves up a smart commentary on modern life post-internet. Aviva/Jane is an early-adopter of blogging, Rachel’s trying to adapt to romance kindled online, Ruby is being cyberbullied. There are political themes throughout too. And a lot of sly humor!
If you’re looking for a book that’s both smart and highly entertaining, I really recommend you give this a try!