REVIEW: YOUNG JANE YOUNG, BY GABRIELLE ZEVIN

 

Aviva Grossman, an ambitious congressional intern in Florida, makes the mistake of having an affair with her boss–and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the beloved congressman doesn’t take the fall. But Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins: slut-shamed, she becomes a late-night talk show punch line, anathema to politics.

She sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. This time, she tries to be smarter about her life and strives to raise her daughter, Ruby, to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, Aviva decides to run for public office herself, that long-ago mistake trails her via the Internet and catches up–an inescapable scarlet A. In the digital age, the past is never, ever, truly past. And it’s only a matter of time until Ruby finds out who her mother was and is forced to reconcile that person with the one she knows.

My Thoughts: In the beginning of Young Jane Young, we are thrust into the perspective of Rachel Shapiro Grossman, an aging Miami woman recently divorced. When her daughter was younger, she had worried when she and the rest of the world accidentally discovered that she had been having an affair with the Congressman for whom she was an intern. And typically, the Congressman’s life went on. He was not ruined politically; his marriage survived; and Aviva had to come up with another way to move on.

Reinventing herself as Jane Young, she moves to a small town in Maine, where she has her baby girl Ruby. Now we see her new life and how she has found a way to start over.

When Ruby is thirteen, we learn more from her perspective about her quest for answers. Like who is her father? She is precocious and knows how to Google, so it doesn’t take her long to realize that her mother is Aviva Grossman, the infamous intern who slept with a Congressman.

What will Ruby do? How will she deal with what she has learned? Will her investigation cause her to arrive at some erroneous conclusions about her paternity?

In the subsequent chapters, we flash back to Aviva’s early years, which we see unfold from her perspective, and discover some of our own answers to those questions. A delightful read that reminded me of how women pay dearly for their poor choices…and how men seem to sail through theirs. But we also learn that sometimes brave young women can change the course of their lives by boldly reinventing themselves. 5 stars.

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