Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Rating: 4.5 stars
Expected publication date: August 22nd, 2017
Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
This is an amazing and timely book about how unfairly women are still treated in the media, even in 2017. While it takes two consenting adults to start an affair, public opinion generally sees one older gentleman “seduced” by a younger “slut.” I’ve always found it ridiculous that the woman is assigned a larger portion of the blame when the married man is the one who actually broke his wedding vows, and Young Jane Young provides a searing indictment of this hypocrisy.
It shouldn’t matter really who is to blame in the public eye because this is not a public issue. It has nothing to do with politics or where the politicians stand on public issues. I only bring in blame because it’s not fair that the married man who broke his vows gets reelected while the young girl can’t find a job, let alone ever run for office.
Also, the power dynamics play a huge part. What is a 40 year old Congressman doing sleeping with his unpaid college intern? If you have read my post on Startup you know I had a manager that the women in the office called the “sexual harassment manager.” He would frequently hit on his female subordinates, and we felt powerless to do anything. Even though Aviva felt “in control” and mature because an older man like the Congressman was interested in her, that power imbalance meant that she was always going to lose. It was just a matter of when.
Aviva/Jane’s story is told from four women’s POV’s: her mother, Jane herself, her daughter Ruby, and the Congressman’s wife Embreth. There’s also a choose your own adventure chapter. It was interesting to read each unique take on the scandal, including a wiser Jane reflecting on her younger self. Each character provided a twist on the story, from how a scandal affects family to the long suffering wife who stayed by her husband. My only issue with the book is Ruby’s slut-shaming. I would have hoped that Jane raised her with a better sense of female empowerment.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in political scandals, reinventing yourself, and powerful women unafraid to start over.