‘Young Jane Young’ by Gabrielle Zevin

This is the latest novel by Gabrielle Zevin who also wrote The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Do not be fooled by the seemingly light tone in Zevin’s books; they are full of humour and easy to read but have depth. This one digs down into politics, truth telling, and female empowerment. It felt very current. At first glance it seems to be just a tabloid Monica Lewinsky story, but then it morphs into something a lot more. Yes, the affair was consensual, but there was such an imbalance of power in the relationship that it took all hope of recovery for the woman away–name recognition alone would hound her for the rest of her days…

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the relationship between the mothers and daughters and was cheering for the main character who is quirky and strong. Against the odds, she seeks to find a meaningful life after mistakes have been made.

One image from the novel stuck with me and caused me to reflect as I drove along a windswept beach in New Zealand. Trees were bent away from the sea, their very shape altered by the relentless buffeting winds, forming them into unique reinvented examples of strength and resilience. Here is the quote: “When you think about it, isn’t a person just a structure built in reaction to the landscape and the weather?” Yes. Beautiful.

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