Monday, June 10, 2019

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a tale as old as time – or at least as old as the existence of political internships. Very young woman meets much older, powerful man and sparks fly. The one who’s got the balance of power weighted massively in his favor and who supposedly has so much more to lose should not encourage the crush, should shut it down – but doesn’t.

And when the truth hits the fan, and it always hits the fan, it’s a temporary bit of rough seas for the man, which does not derail his life, career or marriage. The former intern, however, becomes a punchline, her education and intern experience now meaningless on resumes that no one wants.

In Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (who also wrote the book club favorite The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry), we see how this scenario plays out for Aviva Grossman, a congressional intern in Florida. She accidentally compounds the problem by blogging anonymously about the affair, and of course once the affair comes to light the blog is found, feeding the flames of prurient interest in the whole mess.

It’s a world where Monica Lewinsky had already been thrown to the lions with her own, much larger, scandal for an affair with then-President Bill Clinton. And we all saw how that worked out for Lewinsky. Aviva’s scandal isn’t as massive in the national media or as instantly memorable years later, but it’s always just a quick Internet search away for any potential employer vetting applicants. She is so screwed, her career, her life, derailed before she can even start it. All over an affair she had while still in college. It’s painfully unfair, and painfully believable.

And yet the book isn’t a depressing read by any means. It’s light, funny, and hopeful. Aviva finds her way to a new life and a new name. The past doesn’t stay in the past, of course, not in the Internet age. The chain of events that unfolds takes the reader on a journey through the bonds of family and friendship and the strength of spirit it takes to persevere.

Some great lines from the book:

"The key to happiness in life is knowing when to keep your mouth shut."

"When someone tells you ‘it’s not what it looks like,’ it’s almost always exactly what it looks like."

Buy Young Jane Young on Amazon

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