books and reading · reviews

Book Review: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

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Aviva Grossman is a young and impressionable congressional intern when she falls for her married boss. A mistake in and of itself, but then she blogs about it, and it gets discovered, and she’s basically run out of town. So she moves to Maine, changes her name, and raises her daughter to be strong. But when she decides to run for public office herself, she finds that her past mistakes aren’t so easily erased.

Gabrielle Zevin offers a fresh, funny, and compelling take on slut shaming and modern society in Young Jane Young. Told in five parts from the perspectives of five smart and very different women, this is a delight of a book that whizzes by and leaves the reader thoroughly satisfied. Although Zevin presents a story that’s very familiar, she does so with a freshness and cleverness that makes it new again. 

Comparisons to Monica Lewinsky abound here, but Zevin does it so carefully that it’s a powerful connection to real-life source material that doesn’t overwhelm this story’s original narrative. Because there are five different narrators, parts of the story are revisited over and over again, but because they’re seen from different perspectives, it doesn’t feel as though the story ever lags. It just helps add further dimension to characters that feel real and very human.

I loved this one. It’s inspiring and full of strong female characters. It’s funny and warm, and Zevin has crafted one of the best critiques of slut-shaming I’ve ever seen. It skewers the sexism inherent in our society, and it does so beautifully. Recommended.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin. Algonquin: 2017. Library copy.

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