Skip to main content

Young Jane Young

Review

Young Jane Young

Aviva Grossman was an ambitious Congressional intern who made the huge mistake of having an affair with her boss, a beloved Congressman. The relationship was a secret for a long time, but one unfortunate event led Aviva to become the Monica Lewinsky of South Florida. Although the scandal was a local one, in the age of the internet and search applications, Aviva was unable to obtain employment even in states far away from Florida.

"YOUNG JANE YOUNG is smart, funny and, above all, an intelligent read. Zevin has penned an amazing story with fascinating female characters who made me laugh and cry, and is a magnificent portrait of women in and around politics."

After yet another stupid mistake, Aviva decides to change her name, leave Florida and move to Allison Springs, Maine, where she has made a life for herself and her daughter. For more than 12 years, Aviva, now Jane Young, has been an event planner. Her political aspirations probably would have remained buried if not for the fact that Allison Springs needs a new mayor. After a bit of persuasion, Aviva decides to become a candidate. However, it is not easy to hide your past, especially in the political arena. What will she do once the forbidden affair comes to light?

The plot of YOUNG JANE YOUNG is very much inspired by the Lewinsky scandal. There are a number of similarities between the fictional and real-life storylines, including the media’s reaction, the intern’s life once all is out in the open, and the survival of the politician’s career. The affair is the central point around which Gabrielle Zevin knits her tale. She explains how and why it occurred, and how profoundly it affected the lives of Aviva, the Congressman and their loved ones. The novel resonates with a strong message regarding hypocrisy in our society, whereby men can commit a serious transgression with little or no consequences, while the women are left to take the fall. In that sense, Aviva is not the only female “victim”; her mother and daughter, as well as the Congressman’s wife, have all paid a hefty price.

The story is told by four different narrative voices: Aviva, Rachel (Aviva’s mother), Ruby (Aviva’s daughter) and Embeth (the Congressman’s wife). For me, the most powerful narrator was Embeth; I appreciated her brutal honesty and how she expressed the glory and misery of being a politician’s wife. Although these ladies have been through so much, they are not portrayed as weak victims; to the contrary, they are all remarkably strong and determined individuals.

YOUNG JANE YOUNG is smart, funny and, above all, an intelligent read. Zevin has penned an amazing story with fascinating female characters who made me laugh and cry, and is a magnificent portrait of women in and around politics.

Reviewed by Dunja Bonacci Skenderovic on August 25, 2017

Young Jane Young
by Gabrielle Zevin

  • Publication Date: August 22, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • ISBN-10: 1616205040
  • ISBN-13: 9781616205041