Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin, review by Shelly Walston
Gabrielle Zevin's latest novel Young Jane Young is as endearing as it is fully enveloping. By interleaving four women's stories, Zevin creates a tale that spans decades, affecting both young and old alike.
The book is told in four sections, each from a different female's perspective: there's Aviva's mother Rachel, Jane's daughter Ruby, a congressman's wife Embeth, and Jane Young herself. Through each section, there's a different perspective, and Zevin takes the time to imbue each woman with chutzpah, as each grapples with her own sense of self, of her past, and of the prospect of her future. Zevin also plays with form – giving each woman a different format to her tale: an online dating profile, an email exchange with an internet pen pal, a conversation with an imaginary parrot name El Mete, and a choose your own adventure-style passage that reveals how the choices we make lead us to the women we become.
Young Jane Young is a novel about women - those who raise young women, those who marry, those who find themselves alone, and those women with whom they build community. It is also a novel about choosing the best path, facing regret square in the face, creating your own destiny, and refusing to let the past break you.
By weaving a history of four women, Zevin addresses double standards, political improprieties, and each woman's desire to have someone with whom she can truly confide. With The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, Zevin brought a beating heart and a truthful endearment to the literary world; with Young Jane Young, she manages to do it again.