Expected Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Format: E-book from netgalley
This book felt like just what I needed! Funny, warm, and engaging, Young Jane Young captures what it’s like to be a woman at various stages of life. It highlights the stereotypes and cultural biases that we have not moved much beyond since the days of the Puritans and the writing of The Scarlet Letter. It characterizes several generations of women within the same family and their varied responses and attitudes toward similar situations. It is told from multiple perspectives and there is even a section from Jane Young’s perspective that puts the reader in the driver seat in a choose your own adventure format.
Young Jane Young is a twenty-something female who was born Aviva Grossman. Aviva Grossman works as a summer intern for Congressman Levin, who also happened to be a neighbor of hers when she was a child. They begin an affair despite the fact that he is much older, married and her employer. When they are found out, there is huge backlash against Aviva, but very little towards the Congressman. Aviva is unable to even get a job, which is incredibly disheartening as she was hoping to go into politics and had been doing an excellent job during the internship. The internet serves as her “scarlet letter” ruining her social life and any chances for a career. She feels there is nothing left to do except change her name and move out of state.
I don’t want to give too much away, but this book comes full circle with redemption, fulfillment, forgiveness and understanding all coming into play towards the end after a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Aviva is able to triumph over her past, first by escaping it, and later, by facing it head on at a time when she is much stronger and more self assured. This book is a huge slap in the face to the slut shaming that goes on in situations like these! This writing is powerfully feminist exposing gender inequalities and casual misogyny in today’s society. The women have their flaws, no doubt, however, they feel incredibly real and relatable. Even if the reader may not have made the same choices as these women, I think the reader can empathize with their choices through the context of the writing. The writing is wonderful, fun and enjoyable. This is a book out to prove a bit point, but does so with much humor and warmth along the way. I highly recommend this book to all women, young and old. It would make an excellent book club book, as there is so much to discuss as well as cheer for!
Monica Lewinsky & Bill Clinton, the couple who seemed to be the inspiration for this novel
Monica Lewinsky, from NBC, where she discusses “the culture of humiliation”
- Compare and contrast Aviva Grossman to Hester from The Scarlet Letter. In what ways has society and gender bias changed since the writing of that book in 1850 to present day? How, in effect, does the internet become Aviva’s scarlet letter?
- Discuss the fallout of the affair between Aviva and Congressman Levin. What consequences do each face?
- Why do you think Embeth stays by her husband? Why do you think so many wives in politics stand by their husbands after public outing of affairs?
- Compare and contrast the situation of Aviva Grossman and Monica Lewinsky.
- Rachel’s husband was cheating on her throughout her marriage. Why did she put up with it for so long? Do you think this had an effect on Aviva in her decision to carry on with an affair with the Congressman?
- Embeth appears ready to die and even hopeful for it. She compares her predicament to being a victim of human trafficking at one point. Do you feel that this is a fair comparison? Why or why not?
- Why do you think that Embeth was never interested in becoming friends with Rachel, when clearly Rachel felt that she had tried?
- Why do you think Roz puts her husband’s version of the story (that Rachel kissed him) above Rachel’s version? Do you think their friendship is mendable?
- Do you think Jorge is the father of Jane’s daughter? Do you think they will ever tell him?
- What do you think Wes West’s wife’s secret is? Why do you think Wes West is such a bully?
- Discuss the figure and beliefs of Mrs. Morgan. How is she pivotal in turning Jane’s life around?
- Discuss the meaning of the title. By the end of the novel, when Jane Young is running for mayor, do you think that Mrs. Morgan would still refer to her as Young Jane Young? How has she changed or matured?
- Did you enjoy the choose your own adventure component to this book? What do you think it added?
- There are so many examples of casual misogyny within this book, such as “douchebag,” and “old wives tales.” Which other ones can you name from this book and from life?
- Aviva and her professor discuss the meaning of feminism. What is your definition of feminism?