Young Jane Young, by Gabrielle Zevin (2017)

Young Jane Young, by Gabrielle ZevinWhatever happened to Monica Lewinsky? Those of us who remember the scandal that broke exactly 20 years ago this month are likely bemoaning the fact so little has changed, as police officers, movie producers, journalists and others across every industry face allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace. But at least now victims’ stories are being heard – 20 years ago, interviews with Lewinsky were done not to understand her side of the story but to broadcast one salacious detail after another. And that’s where this story stands out and shines. Zevin, author of the brilliant and delightful The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, has reimagined the Clinton-Lewinsky affair into a sparkling novel that explores what happens when boundaries are crossed, decisions can’t be reversed, and lives are forever impacted. Aviva Grossman is “just another congressional intern” when she falls for the powerful and handsome Congressman who is also a family acquaintance. The scandal breaks when the two are involved in a car crash (a nod to Chappaquiddick), and Aviva’s life is forever changed – ruined, even, as she can’t get a job or even an interview once potential employers google her name. No one even considers that there is another side to the story. Zevin uses multiple voices to tell the full story – Aviva’s Jewish mother Rachel, wedding planner Jane Young, the congressman’s long-suffering wife Embeth, Jane’s daughter Ruby, and of course, the young Aviva herself. In an incredibly timely novel, Zevin has created fully developed and sympathetic characters that together challenge the accepted news narrative of the flirty intern who led a good man astray. They are also funny, sassy, tender, and prone to errors in judgment, from Rachel and her late foray into online dating to Ruby’s tearful struggle with youthful judgment of her mother’s past. A razor-sharp indictment of victim-blaming and slut-shaming, Young Jane Young lets readers reflect on the sexism inherent in reporting such events, and the responsibility (and opportunity) each of us has in making a change for the better. Brilliant.
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2 thoughts on “Young Jane Young, by Gabrielle Zevin (2017)

    • Good to hear it piqued your interest, Debbie. As always share your thoughts once you’ve read it!

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