Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
|Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: Funny, frank and fearless, Jane Young is a modern day heroine in an illuminating tale from a very skilled author.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: August 2017|
|Publisher: Little, Brown|
|External links: Author's website|
Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida, makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss - who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married - and blogging about it. 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, labelled 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 starts over as a wedding planner, tries 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. These days, Google guarantees that the past is never, ever, truly past, that everything you've done will live on for everyone to know about for all eternity. And it's only a matter of time until Aviva/Jane's daughter, Ruby, finds out who her mother was, and is, and must decide whether she can still respect her.
Gabrielle Zevin burst onto the international publishing scene rather dramatically back in 2013, with the beautiful The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, a tale that beautifully conveyed the transformative power that books hold over many of us, and enchanted me with a charming and romantic character who was taken on a fascinating journey through life and literature. Young Jane Young is a very different affair altogether - but nevertheless follows compelling characters through a clever, timely and highly readable story.
Aviva Grossman or, as she later becomes, Jane Young, is the main character of this tale, but the story chooses not to tell itself solely through Jane's eyes, but instead takes the reader through several different and unique viewpoints. From Jane's mother to her daughter Ruby, by way of the wife of the Senator with whom the young Jane/Aviva has a brief affair, it results in a fascinating and moving story of womanhood, exploring the sacrifices, choices and journeys that these fascinating characters embark on.
I'm sure that many of us who were around in the 90's remember the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton affair rather vividly, given that there was little else in the news for a long period of time. Lewinsky has reinvented herself recently as a campaigner against cyber-bullying, after having endured years of online abuse - being labelled as a slut and a home-wrecker in the media, despite being a young girl who was taken advantage of by an immensely powerful older man. That journey and story takes on fascinating new life here, making Young Jane Young both a powerful character study with luminous, intriguing characters such as the brilliant Ruby, but also a clever, timely and powerful read about family, love, youth, and the small decisions that can change the entire course of a life. Brilliant reading, many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
For further reading, inspired by the brilliant Ruby in Young Jane Young, I heartily recommend How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, a tale of a 14 year old struggling with family, hormones and an urge to spread her wings, it's funny, feminist and a fantastic read.
You can read more book reviews or buy Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin at Amazon.com.
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