YOUNG JANE YOUNG by Gabrielle Zevin
Kirkus Star


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When a young political intern in South Florida has an affair with her boss, it leads to disaster—at least at first.

The best thing to come out of the Monica Lewinsky scandal since Lewinsky’s own magnificent TED talk, Zevin’s (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, 2014, etc.) fourth adult novel reinvents the familiar story more cleverly and warmly than one would have thought possible. Five sections come at the situation from different angles. The first is called “Bubbe Meise” ("Old Wives’ Tale" in Yiddish), and in it we hear the delightful old-Jewish-lady voice of Rachel Shapiro, a South Floridian who’s dipping her toe into online dating. She’s on a date that’s going quite well until the fellow asks her daughter’s name, and she tells him it’s Aviva, and he remarks that that was the name of that awful girl who got in trouble with Congressman Levin back in 2001. “You really don’t remember her? Well, Rach, she was like Monica Lewinsky.…It was a blight on South Florida, a blight on Jews, a blight on politicians if that’s even possible, a blight on civilization in general.” That's the end of that beautiful relationship. Rachel gives us the outlines of the debacle, after which her daughter disappeared, 13 years ago now. “I have a cell phone number. She calls me once or twice a year. I believe I have a grandchild. Yes, I would call this a sadness in my life.” To reveal more would be to give away too much, since part of the joy here is the unexpected way the story unfolds. I can tell you, as Rachel Shapiro might say, that you will hear from the eponymous Jane Young, who's a wedding planner in a small town in Maine, and that one of the sections is an adroit takeoff on the structure of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, also seen recently in Nathan Hill’s The Nix. Must be generational. References to Monica Lewinsky herself are a running theme, recalling the brutal true story underlying this delicious fictional one.

This book will not only thoroughly entertain everyone who reads it; it is the most immaculate takedown of slut-shaming in literature or anywhere else. Cheers, and gratitude, to the author.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-61620-504-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2017


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A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over—and see everything anew. “Zevin writes characters who grow and prosper,” our reviewer writes, “in a narrative that is sometimes sentimental, sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining.” View video >


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