Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Young Jane Young

Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Viking
First Published: August 29, 2017
First Line: "My dear friend Roz Horowitz met her new husband online dating, and Roz is three years older and fifty pounds heavier than I am, and people have said that she is generally not as well preserved, and so I thought I would try it even though I avoid going online too much."

Book Description from GoodReadsYoung Jane Young's heroine is Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida who 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, 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. For in our age, 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.

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: If you don't love books that pull you head first into them, with interesting characters, humour and the author's ability to turn what you thought on its head and make you see things in a different light then this isn't a book for you.

If you enjoy all those things then I have a feeling you'll love this book as much as I did. Going into this book I was expecting a funny, Women's Fiction kind of read. Enjoyable but light. What I got was a different experience.  

Young Jane Young has its funny, chuckle to yourself, bits but also addresses big issues like shame, forgiveness, strength and about not running from your past but facing issues head-on so they must get out of YOUR way. 

"How did you ever survive that scandal?"

She said, "I refused to be shamed."

"How did you do that?" you asked. 

"When they came at me, I kept coming," she said.” 

But what truly shone for me was the idea that the assumptions we make greatly influence our understanding of what we've experienced and our reactions to those events. I admit to catching myself assuming things about characters and the plot and we all know what they say about assuming. I loooved that aspect of the book and it gave me a lot to think about.

The story is told by four women - Aviva, who is at the heart of the scandal, her mother Rachel, Ruby, Aviva's daughter and Embeth, the senator's wife. These four women have made mistakes, have complicated relationships with each other but together they tell the many facets of the story. These women have moxie. You can't deny it. They're fighters and I loved seeing the strength and diversity in the female cast. 

My only teeny-tiny issue with the book was the voice of Ruby.  As a mother of a recently turned 14-year-old teenage girl (and two teen boys) I believe I have been schooled in the fine art of 'Teenager' and Ruby's dialogue and reactions felt more in line with a 9 or 10-year-old. It was a little distracting, to be honest.

Readers will easily see strong correlations to the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal but Zevin brings her own perspective and shows how one perception of an issue isn't the only one. Scandal has a domino effect and impacts those around it in varying degrees. I applaud Zevin for confronting the blatant double standards put on women that are still prevalent, sadly tolerated and even encouraged, in our society today. This is a story about the complex relationships between women, it's got humour, heart, food for thought and a fighter's spirit.  What more could you ask for?

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