“Young Jane Young” Review

Book Title: Young Jane Young

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: Literary fiction, contemporary fiction

Published Date: August 22, 2017

Rating:  3 stars

Challenges: Popsugar 2018 Advanced Challenge (Past GoodReads Award Winner), #5 of 68 for GoodReads Challenge

“Young Jane Young” had been on my to-be-read list after hearing such great feedback on a number of podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis. Recently the Kindle version was on sale at Amazon and so I took advantage and made my purchase (long list at the library). In addition, I was looking forward to reading another selection by the author who wrote “The Storied Life of AJ Fikry,” which I thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately, while the basic premise of the novel was good, I did not enjoy “Young Jane Young” as much as I expected I would. Let me explain.

The book is divided up into sections, each told from the perspective of a woman…varying in age. First up is Rachel Shapiro, who is divorced from her cardiac surgeon husband and is prodded and pushed to go on dates by her best friend Roz. Male after male doesn’t quite make the grade to warrant a second date. One male, Andrew, seemed promising until he mentions a scandal from the past that involved a young woman, Aviva Grossman, and a congressman, Aaron Levin. The young woman happens to be Rachel’s daughter, who had expectations of going into politics until post-scandal reality stepped in. Subsequent sections are told from the point of view of ‘Jane Young’ (who happens to be none other than Aviva), followed by Ruby (her precocious daughter), then Embeth (the Congressman’s wife) and lastly Aviva (combo of reflecting back to the time of the scandal and current day).

While I always enjoy novels told by multiple characters, I think the novel would have been more impactful if told by only Rachel and Jane/Aviva. “Young Jane Young” fell short for me in that I would have liked to have seen a more refined look at the psyche of both mom and daughter at the time of the scandal. It seemed like a big missed opportunity. There was a light, fleeting touch…but not enough about how the young woman and her family dealt with the scandal.

“Young Jane Young” does make you stop to think about how a political sex scandal affects more than the politician. And especially now with the #MeToo movement, I did wonder how this novel might have looked very different if the scandal occurred today. Nevertheless, I am glad I picked it up and read “Young Jane Young.”

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