The Return of the Full-Length Review: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

I went to a very small (as in, the entire undergraduate student body was smaller than my high school’s senior class) liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon. I had grown up in Virginia, so my school shouldn’t have been on anyone’s radar. But when I told people where I was going, the response was always, “Wait. That sounds familiar. Why does that sound familiar?”

Why, indeed? Well . . . this was roughly two years after the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke. And I was going to Lewis and Clark College, Lewinsky’s alma mater. In those days, Lewinsky was such a household name that even her teeny college became familiar to the masses.

Fast forward twenty years, and Monica Lewinsky is still a household name, forever associated with cigars and a stained Gap dress. Google her, and you’ll find a TIME “article” entitled “Top 10 Mistresses.” Do a search for “slut-shaming,” and one of the top hits will be a blog post entitled “The Truth about Slut-Shaming” with a picture of Lewinsky as its hero image.

Last year, Jon Ronson (author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed) wrote an article about Lewinsky in The Guardian in which she is quoted as saying, “The shame sticks to you like tar.” But, thankfully, the article contains a glimmer of hope: “Lewinsky was once among the 20th century’s most humiliated people, ridiculed across the world. Now she’s a respected and perceptive anti-bullying advocate. She gives talks at Facebook, and at business conferences, on how to make the internet more compassionate.” 

Unknown.jpegYoung Jane Young
Gabrielle Zevin
304 pages
Published August 22, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Young Jane Young is about Aviva Grossman, a fictional Monica Lewinsky. As a college-student intern, she has an affair with her boss (an attractive, married Congressman with two kids). Oh, and she naively decides to document their lurid affair in an “anonymous”–and very explicit–blog. Continue reading

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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

DISCLOSURE: I received an advance reading copy of this book from NetGalley and Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review. 

21445677The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin
© 2014
258 pages (ARC e-book)

About twenty years ago, big-box bookstores started popping up all over. Barnes & Noble and Borders were as ubiquitous (and as large) as Whole Foods or Target. They were places to meet up for blind dates (Starbucks in a wide-open, brightly lit public place? Yep, that will work.), to read magazines for hours on end (without purchasing them, of course), to browse cookbooks and travel books, and to buy all of your hardcover bestsellers for 20% off the list price.

Independent booksellers shook with fright . . . and for good reason. Surely you remember the (mediocre) movie about the evil, corporate, big-box bookstore taking over the little guys: Continue reading