Young Jane Young
Thanks to Netgalley and Algonquin for providing Texas Girl Reads with a digital galley of this book – all opinions are my own.
“I’m not a murderer,” she says. “I’m a slut, and you can’t be acquitted of that.”
Sometimes we need a book to just tell it like it is. To not skirt around the issues, but face them head on. Gabrielle Zevin, the author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, is a pro at this in Young Jane Young. If you like women’s fiction and politics, this is the book for you. It’s fun and funny, but Zevin also takes a good, hard look at the huge gap between the expectations of men and women in professional settings.
Aviva Grossman is a congressional intern in Florida, and she goes into the job the way most people do in their 20s: with gusto and unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, things don’t go exactly as planned. She has an affair with a congressman and blogs about it. Her blog is anonymous, but when the congressman gets into a car accident (with Aviva in the car), the press finds out who the author really is. After the scandal, the congressman goes back to work and regular life. Aviva, however, is shamed by the media and unable to find a job. Anywhere. She decides the only way to move on is to move to Maine and change her name and, hopefully, her luck. But the past always has a way of showing up again, and when it does, Aviva must decide what to do.
This is not only a fun book, it is very smart women’s fiction. Zevin is witty and funny, and there were several laugh out loud moments for me because of her irreverent humor. The format is unique, alternating points of view between characters, as well as different formats for each section. One is all e-mails. Another is a riff on the choose your own adventure stories. Zevin pulls this off expertly, and the unique formatting added to the quirkiness of the story.
This is a great story, and it almost felt like a good friend telling me about a crazy adventure she had, and I love that. It’s fun, and it’s the perfect book to read after a string of emotionally-heavy novels. That being said, the book does address how much more difficult it is for women in professional settings when they make the same mistakes as men. The congressman keeps his job and his marriage, and Aviva has to fabricate a completely different façade for herself just to have a life. Zevin has written about an important topic and added a large dose of humor, and I loved it!