Young Jane Young


“It’s brilliant and hilarious, and it makes you wince in recognition — for the double-standard that relegates scandalized women to a life of shame even as their married lovers continue with their careers (and often their marriages), for the insatiable appetite we have for every last detail, for the ease and speed with which we stop seeing people as multilayered humans. It’s the sort of book that invites us to examine our long-held beliefs and perceptions. It asks us to imagine, for a moment, another perspective and delivers us the storyline to do so. It hands us characters who are at odds with one another and peels back their layers to reveal the thing they have in common. It has a heart. And a spine. It’s exactly, I would argue, what we need more of right now.” —Heidi Stevens, Chicago Tribune

Washington Post 50 Notable Works of Fiction for 2017, Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction of 2017, Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2017, an Indie Next Pick, People Magazine Book of the Week, Library Reads #1 Pick for August, Finalist for the Southern Book Prize, Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction

Listen to an interview about Young Jane Young with Lulu Garcia-Navarro on NPR Weekend Edition.

Watch a humorous video about Young Jane Young with Ron Charles of the Washington Post.

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“This book will not only thoroughly entertain everyone who reads it; it is the most immaculate takedown of slut-shaming in literature or anywhere else. Cheers, and gratitude, to the author.” —Kirkus Review, starred review

“[T]his is a redemptive novel inspired by the ordeal of Monica Lewinsky…. [T]he last thing anyone wants is to be dragged through the Starr Report again, one cigar at a time. Which is what makes Zevin’s clever approach to this story so appealing. Her novel comes to us in five distinct parts, each focusing on a different woman affected by Avivagate. That structure rotates the scandal in curious ways, and it also shows off just what a clever ventriloquist Zevin is…. Maybe with enough determination and love and support, women can choose their own adventures. They can start, like Aviva, by choosing not to be ashamed. In this life-affirming novel, Zevin doesn’t make that look easy, but she makes it look possible.”
The Washington Post
“This sly, exhilirating novel takes on slut-shaming . . . and manages to be hilarious in the process. . . . [Aviva] emerges as a strong woman to be celebrated.”–People (Book of the Week)
“Splendid . . . A witty, strongly drawn group of female voices tells Aviva’s story . . . [Zevin] has created a fun and frank tale. Her vibrant and playful writing, and the fully realized characters taking turns as narrator, bring the story a zestful energy, even while exploring dark themes of secrecy and betrayal. Zevin perfectly captures the realities of the current political climate and the consequences of youthful indiscretions in an era when the Internet never forgets.”

“Presenting a sharp send-up of our culture’s obsession with scandal and blame, this novel pulls at the seams of misogyny from all angles . . . Likely to be a popular book club pick.”
Library Journal

“Satisfying and entertaining.”
Publishers Weekly

Young Jane Young is a witty and wise story of three generations of women; in particular, Rachel and Ruby are often laugh-out-loud funny, while Jane/Aviva and Embeth have a wryer take on their circumstances. Strong and brave, transformed by scandal, they make their way in an often hostile world. In a dream, Jane asks Aviva how she survived. Aviva replies, “I refused to be shamed.”
—Shelf Awareness

“Zevin’s newest novel is an engrossing tale of growing up female in the digital age that every young girlboss should put on their to-read list.”
—Brit + Co

“It’s brilliant and hilarious, and it makes you wince in recognition…. It’s the sort of book that invites us to examine our long-held beliefs and perceptions. It asks us to imagine, for a moment, another perspective and delivers us the storyline to do so…. It hands us characters who are at odds with one another and peels back their layers to reveal the thing they have in common. It has a heart. And a spine. It’s exactly, I would argue, what we need more of right now.” —Chicago Tribune

“By presenting a novel that delves into the life of Aviva – the ‘slutty’ woman whose stereotype has become all too prevalent in today’s society – Zevin offers a deft counterargument in the form of a well-crafted story. The book raises powerful questions about who receives the blame in such Monica Lewinsky-esque scenarios.” —News & Observer

“Young Jane Young features witty yet compassionate storytelling from four women at different stages of their lives, each relating to the same event that uprooted them in profound and personal ways…. Zevin works creatively with arrangement, allowing the story to develop nonlinearly. She uses brilliantly unusual formats, such as a series of outgoing emails to a pen pal as a way for a precocious teen to speak candidly. The final section is told through a playful choose-your-own-ending format, which, tellingly, only provides one choice—a simple yet profound way to look upon the past.” —BookPage

“Gabrielle Zevin’s latest work is a smart, intersectional feminist tour de force about feminine power and shame…. Each character’s voice is distinct and moves the tale along. The prose is lovely and lively in Ms. Zevin’s energetic and engaging style.” —The Washington Times

“Witty and insightful with a crowd of strong female voices, this is a brilliant read.” —Emerald Street

“[Zevin] writes splendidly, capturing speech flawlessly. . . . Young Jane Young is clever and easily read.” —The American Jewish World

“The tale is told, brilliantly, in many voices. . . . Significantly, there are no male narrators. This is a woman’s story.” —The Daily Mail

Questions for Discussion

1. In the author’s note, we learn that bubbe meise means a “grandmother’s tale” or an “old wives’ tale.” How does this inform your understanding of the first section of the novel?

2. Were Rachel’s attempts to end the affair helpful? If you were Aviva’s mother, what would you have done?

3. The book is divided into five sections: Rachel, Jane, Ruby, Embeth, and Aviva. Which character could you relate to the most, and why? In what ways are “Jane” and “Aviva” separate characters?

4. When Rachel tells Embeth about the affair, why do you think Embeth decides not to do anything about it?

5. When two people have a workplace romance, how is it affected by a power imbalance in their positions?

6. What did you make of Franny’s relationship to Jane? Why is Franny so quick to bond with her?

7. What did you make of Ruby’s decision to tell the newspaper who Aviva Grossman is?

8. A parrot appears in Embeth’s section of the novel, and seems to be visible only to her. What do you think El Mete represents?

9. Why didn’t Embeth ever run for office? Compare Embeth and Aviva.

10. Why do you think Embeth protects her husband the congressman from meeting Ruby?

11. Why do you think the author decides to take us back to the beginning of Aviva’s internship in the final section of the book? How does your knowledge of Aviva’s choices affect your empathy for her?

12. Women are 51% of the population, and yet they occupy fewer than 20% of the seats in the House and Senate. Why do you think that is? Is it a matter of desire, or is it borne out of something larger in our society?

13. At the end of the novel, Aviva is asked how she survived the scandal, and she says, “I refused to be shamed” (294). What is the difference between feeling shame and being shamed?

14. Imagine Aviva’s story if it were thirty years-ago, a time before the internet was commonly used. How would Aviva’s story be different if there wasn’t Google?

15. Why do you think Jane decides to run for office even though it means exposing her past and revealing her identity? Do you think Jane wins the election?

Jane Around the World

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