Gabrielle Zevin * Algonquin Books * August 22, 2017 * 294 Pages
Young Jane Young is one continuous story told from the perspective of four different women. Recent college grad Aviva Grossman has just begun an internship at the campaign offices of up-and-coming (and charming) Congressman Aaron Levin. Overwhelmed at first, she soon finds her groove—while also managing to catch the attention of Congressman Levin himself. Aviva is young, impressionable, and “romantic,” as she says, and soon finds herself in a dicey situation. Though she attempts to make things right (several times), a string of poor choices inevitably forces her to face the consequences of her actions. Humiliated but determined to find a way to live her life again, Aviva abruptly flees the scandal and the limelight in her home town and attempts to start over with a clean slate.
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This is a light read without a whole lot of substance. Which is fine! Characters are superficial but sometimes funny. The story is predictable but sometimes not. Of course the whole Monica Lewinsky angle is salacious and gossipy, but it never gets gross or overly graphic.
I had no problem zipping through this novel, but I never really connected with the characters. In fact, it bothered me that they came across as incomplete, like caricatures acting a part. There were many points in the story when I thought, “Now would that character actually react in that way?” For example, Aviva’s mother’s response to Aviva’s inappropriate relationship with the congressman was ludicrous. And Ruby’s response to discovering certain things about her mother was incredibly odd, extreme, and out of character.
I also had problems with the book’s ambiguous and incomplete ending. What the heck happens next? There were so many unresolved relationship issues that I felt cheated. I get that I’m supposed to want to focus on Aviva’s ability to move forward like the strong woman she is! But all I could think about were those loose ends. I had zero sense of closure when I finished the book, and that irritated me.
Ultimately, this ended up being a fine book, just not anything special.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.