Book review: Young Jane Young

Young Jane Young

Y’all know how I successfully completed the A-Z reading challenge of 2018! I know I know, I surprised myself and I am definitely signing up for the next year too. And that is how I heard of the highly rated Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin as I was on the lookout for the letter ‘Y’. 

To be fair I would have been okay with just a decent read because my aim was more to tick that letter off. Did that happen with Young Jane Young? Let us see, shall we?

About the book

Young Jane Young

Book Name: Young Jane Young

Author:  Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Rachel Grossman, Jane Young (Aviva Grossman), Aaron and Embeth Levin, Ruby Young

Setting: Florida, Maine, The USA

Plot

Loosely based on the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal from the yesteryears, Zevin talks about the other side of the story in her book, Young Jane Young.

Taking place in Florid, Aviva Grossman, a new intern has an affair with the handsome Congressman Aaron Levin. When it comes out in the open, the congressman’s life stays impact, despite the negative news and Aviva’s life is turned upside down. But all that is the past.

Now, she has moved states and reinvented herself as Jane Young, an event planner, and lives with her headstrong daughter Ruby. When she is convinced to run for the mayor of her small town, her past catches up. Ruby realizes her mother is not who she believed to be and takes things up in her own hands. Did that end well? Did the Grossman family have a chance to reconcile? You will have to read Young Jane Young to know more.

My initial thoughts

In Young Jane Young, we read about the present life and the aftermath of the scandal through the eyes of five female involved Rachel Grossman (Aviva’s mother), Jane Young (Aviva’s new life), Embeth Levin (the congressman’s wife), Ruby (Jane’s daughter) and Aviva herself (in a Choose Your Adventure style narration). 

I generally like books that have different POVs. I know they usually are either hit or miss and there is no in between. And Zevin nails this down. 

As much as I understood the actions of the 13 year old Ruby, they still irritated me, especially when she is portrayed as a rational and feminist kinda kid. I didn’t feel related to any of the characters but that, surprisingly didn’t seem a negative in Young Jane Young. 

Apart from the story as much, Young Jane Young brings out the double standard and misogynist society we live in, especially because IT REALLY HAPPENED. Though I was kinda young and living in a different continent altogether to know all the details, I remember how we joked about the seductress and tore her apart while Clinton’s political life and marriage survived. And we went on to diss about Hillary Clinton about deciding to stay with him. I think this is a powerful feminist story in its own way. 

Things that worked for me

  • The plot is definitely interesting and is worth talking about. I didn’t quite expect Young Jane Young to turn out to be a feminist tale.
  • The writing is fast and engaging. I never felt even a moment’s lag in the pace of the story. 
  • I loved reading different point of views of five strong women. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I didn’t relate to any of the characters and the actions of few of these characters really irked me. 
  • It takes a while for the story to pick and for the reader to understand what really happened in the past.
  • Choose Your Adventure style narration for the last part felt too gimmicky for my liking.

Bottom-line

If you are ready to face the misogynistic side of the yesteryear’s scandal, Young Jane Young is for you. I liked Gabrielle Zevin’s enaging style of writing and I will definitely be reading more from her. 

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Young Jane Young

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