Renee's Reviews > Young Jane Young

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
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really liked it

Young Jane Young is the story of Aviva Grossman, a college girl who interns in Congressman Aaron Levin's office and has an affair with him. Though she promises her mother she'll break it off, she doesn't. They're caught when they're in a car accident together. While his career continues to flourish, her life and reputation are ruined.

The story is told in 4 parts: first, Aviva's mother, Rachel Shapiro, shares her side of the story. Next, it's Jane Young. She appears one day in Allison Springs, Maine, and starts an event planning business, but who is she and where did she come from? Is she hiding something?

The third part is Ruby's perspective. Ruby is Jane Young's 13 year old daughter who has questions about her father and decides to research her mother's past while her mother is running for mayor.

Finally, the 4th section is a "choose your own adventure"-style story of the choices Aviva could have made, and the choices she DID make, and how those led her to where she is.

I bought this because I adore the Storied Life of AJ Fikry. I knew going into this that I wouldn't like it quite as much, and I didn't. I chose it because it seemed like a relatively light book for my summer brain, and even though it is, it still picks at issues regarding gender equality and how men are expected to behave a certain way and when they do, no one bats an eyelash, but if women behave in the same way, they risk ruining their lives or their careers. The mark stays with them (she does make comparisons to Hester Prynne and the Scarlet Letter in the book).

After the book ends, there is an essay in the back that discusses how Gabrielle Zevin ran for Student Council President in the 90s, and she noticed that presidents always wore suits. With that knowledge in mind, on the day that she was to give her speech in front of the student body, she borrowed suit slacks from her mother and a dress shirt, jacket, and tie from her father. She wore these to school hoping to be taken seriously and viewed as being presidential. Instead, as she walked to the dais to begin her speech, someone in the audience yelled out -- at least twice -- calling her a dyke. She knew in that moment that she wouldn't win the election. She then ponders what would have happened if she'd won and whether her life would have been set on a different trajectory. It's an interesting personal essay.

This was a good paperback vacation read. I read most of it while traveling and on planes and trains. It's not overly complex with details, but the plot does have those political undertones that will make you think a little bit about the larger purpose.

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Reading Progress

June 19, 2018 – Started Reading
July 4, 2018 – Shelved
July 4, 2018 – Finished Reading

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