cover image Young Jane Young

Young Jane Young

Gabrielle Zevin. Algonquin, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61620-504-1

Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry) offers a satisfying and entertaining story of reinvention and second chances in the wake of a political sex scandal. Aviva Grossman was far and away the most capable intern working in the Florida district office of her local congressman—until their affair was exposed and the subsequent national scandal destroyed her reputation (though, tellingly, not the congressman’s) and doused her political aspirations. Fast-forward more than a decade: Aviva, a single mom, has legally changed her name to Jane Young, moved to small-town Maine, and applied her logistical competence to running her own event planning business. When the town matriarch encourages Jane to run for mayor, her youthful indiscretions threaten to derail her tentative foray back into the political arena. Divided into sections, each focusing on a different woman—Aviva’s mother, Jane; her 13-year-old daughter, Ruby; the congressman’s wife; and Aviva—the novel’s structure means that plot points are occasionally re-trod, though sometimes with surprising new insights. Zevin also plays with form, crafting Ruby’s section as a series of frequently hilarious emails to her Indonesian pen pal and the final section like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. Real-world parallels aside, Jane’s story is in the end less about political scandal and more about gaining strength and moving on from youthful missteps. (Aug.)