There is an “event” in “Young Jane Young” by Gabrielle Zevin. A dramatic event that makes sensational headlines, brings unrelenting paparazzi, and causes punishing trauma, and stress. This book is not about the event, although it plays a pivotal role. “Young Jane Young is about the people, all the people, who are touched by this event. What happens to the players, their families, their acquaintances, and themselves? How they adapt, change, and cope? Can they move on?
Each section of book is told from a different point of view and each section is by person labeled for easy identification. The plot is mostly dialogue driven, and readers get to know all the players, and what those players think about everyone else. The writing style adapts to match the personality of each character, and includes first person narrative, third person, e-mail correspondence, even a “choose your own adventure.”
The casual conversational style draws readers into the characters, so it is almost like talking to friends who live next door. We meet Rachel, divorced, age 64, living in Florida, her daughter Aviva Grossman, who has a problem. We meet her neighbor, Embeth, her husband Aaron, the congressman, and Embeth’s parrot, El Meté. In addition, we meet Jane Young, an event planner who lives in in Maine and her daughter Ruby, who is participating in a “Friends Around the World” pen pal program.
What readers learn is that everyone has secrets, and that a little crisis for one mutates into big problems for others. Jane laments, “The past is never past. Only idiots think that.” Rachael sums it all up, “When someone tells you ‘it’s not what it looks like,’ it’s almost always exactly what it looks like. The key to happiness is knowing when to keep your mouth shut.”
I received a copy of “Young Jane Young” from Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Gabrielle Zevin, and Net Galley, and I absolutely loved it. The characters were compelling and believable. Zevin’s writing style kept each character and story segment appealing and engaging. I highly recommend this book to everyone.