Sunday, 1 October 2017

ARC Book Review: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Published: August 2017

Pages: 304


Summary


The author of the international bestseller The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry returns with a witty, moving novel about what it means to be a woman - especially in the Google age where no secret is safe for long.

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 we'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 Thoughts...


Young Jane Young takes on a very hard task indeed: attempting to shine a light on the reality of the modern scarlet letters. Being alive in the Internet era ensures that complete privacy is definitely a dream, and anything happened in the past is destined to be eternally present. Aviva, a young, ambitious yet naive Congressional intern, has her life figured out: she'll study subjects that give her an edge on the competition, undertake a serious, high-profile internship to get all the experience she needs to become a successful politician herself. What she didn't count on was making a mistake. A stupid, life-changing mistake that tarnishes her name and quickly changes her from promise to punchline. Dubbed the "Monica Lewinsky of Florida", Aviva quickly becomes job-less, friend-less and hope-less. Everyone has heard of her, and even those who haven't will Google her and find out all there is to know about her: she had an affair with her boss. 

"I'm not a murderer", she says. "I'm a slut, and you can't be acquitted of that."

Told in alternating points view, Young Jane Young tells Aviva's story through the eyes of all the women actors. Thoughtful and funny, sad and hopeful, these wonderful characters shows us the complexities of being a modern woman, in a society where our freedoms are  many and apparent, but our chains just as many and hidden away. While none of their lives turn out quite like they expected, all these wonderful, complicated, resilient women manage to take what they have and turn in into something great.

Bittersweet and masterfully narrated, this book is not to be missed. A must-read in today's ever connected, fast moving world, where women's place in society has never been more safe and yet so precarious.

Rating: 4.5/5