Gabrielle Zevin, the author behind Elsewhere and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, is back with a new novel about a congressional intern who seeks a fresh start after she has an affair with her boss.
Told from the perspective of various characters, through emails and even featuring a “choose your own” section, Zevin’s new novel tells the story of Aviva Grossman. After the affair is made public, the fallout is huge for her, but not for the man she sleeps with. After being targeted, “slut-shamed,” and worse, Aviva decides to move somewhere new and start over. Of course, in the age of Google, that’s easier said than done.
Following three generations of women, Young Jane Young is billed as a “sympathetic and smart novel about…the double standards alive and well in every aspect of life for women, and especially so in politics.”
Gabrielle Zevin is the New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including The Hole We’re In, Margarettown, and her debut novel Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book. Her most recent novel, 2014’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, spent four months on the New York Times Bestseller List. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages. Zevin also wrote the original screenplay for Conversations with Other Women, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart, for which Zevin received an Independent Spirit Award nomination.
Young Jane Young will be available Aug. 22. Until then, see the exclusive cover reveal below, along with an excerpt from the book.
Excerpt from Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
By the time I saw Aviva at Thanksgiving, she had lost some weight, but she was otherwise rosy and happy, so all I could think was that the employment was doing her good. Maybe Aviva has found her calling, I thought. Maybe politics is her calling? I entertained a fantasy of myself at her inauguration for some office, dabbing my eyes with a red, white, and blue silk Hermes handkerchief. Aviva was always a girl with smarts and energy, but it often went in many directions, like sun rays or a bag of marbles dropped on the floor — maybe this is just youth, though? I asked her, “So you like working with the congressman?”
Aviva laughed. “I don’t work with him directly, not really.”
“What do you do, then?”
“It’s boring,” she said.
“Not to me! Your first real job!”
“I don’t get paid,” she said. “So it’s not a real job.”
“Still, this is exciting stuff,” I said. “Tell me, my daughter. What do you do?”
“I get the bagels,” she said.
“Okay, what else?”
“They send me to Kinkos.”
“But what are you learning?” I said.
“How to photocopy double-sided,” she said. “How to make coffee.”
“Aviva, come on, give me one good story to take back to Roz.”
“I didn’t take this job so you’d have stories for Roz Horowitz.”
“Something about the Congressman.”
“Mom,” she said impatiently. “There’s nothing to tell. The Congressman’s in DC. I mainly work with the campaign staff. Everything’s raising money and everyone hates raising money, but they believe in what they’re doing and they believe in the congressman, and I guess that makes it all right.”
“So you like it?”
She took a deep breath. “Mommy,” she said, “I’m in love.”
For a second, I thought we were still talking about the job, that she was saying she was in love with politics. I realized that we weren’t.
“It’s early,” she said. “But I think I love him. I do.”
“Who is he?” I asked.
She shook her head. “He’s handsome. He’s Jewish. I don’t want to say too much.”
“Did you meet him at school?”
“I don’t want to say too much.”
“Okay,” I said. “Well, tell me one thing. Does he love you, too?”
Aviva flushed prettily, like when she was a baby and had a fever. “Maybe.”
I felt like she wasn’t saying something. It is probably obvious what she wasn’t saying, but it didn’t occur to me. She was only twenty years old, just a kid, a good girl. I didn’t believe that my Aviva could get herself mixed up in something dirty like that. I had faith in her.
“How old is he?” I asked. The worst I thought was that he could be older.
“Older,” she said.
“How much older?”
“Not as old as Daddy.”
“Well, that’s something,” I said.
“Mom, he’s married,” Aviva said.
Oh God, I thought.
“But he’s unhappy,” she said.
“My love, I can’t caution you strongly enough — please don’t get yourself mixed up in someone else’s marriage.”
“I know,” she said. “I know.”
“Do you? In this life and the next one, all you have is your good name.”
Aviva began to cry. “That’s why I had to tell you. I’m so ashamed.”
“You must end this, Aviva. This can’t go on.”
“I know,” she said.
“Stop saying ‘I know’! ‘I know’ doesn’t mean anything. Say ‘I’ll do it,’ and then go do it. Nothing has happened yet. No one knows except me.”
“Okay, Mom. I’ll do it. Promise me you won’t tell Daddy.”
On the fourth or fifth night of Chanukah, I drove down to Miami to make certain Aviva had sacked the married man. I was anxious so I went overboard with offerings for Aviva’s dorm. I brought an electric Menorah, and a netted bag of gold chocolate coins, and new face towels from Bloomingdales (I paid seven dollars per towel for in store monogramming), and two black-and-white cookies from King’s because these were her favorite when she was little.
“So?” I said.
“Mom,” she said, “the marriage is over, but he can’t break up with the wife at the moment. The timing isn’t right.”
“Oh Aviva,” I said. “That’s what every married man says. He will never break up with the wife. Never.”
“No,” Aviva said, “it’s true. He has a very good reason he can’t break up the marriage right now.”
“Yeah,” I said, “what?”
“I can’t tell you,” she said.
“Why? I want to hear this very good reason.”
“Mom,” she said.
“How can I advise you if I don’t know the details?”
“If I tell you the reason, you’ll know who it is,” Aviva said.
“Maybe not,” I said.
“You will,” she said.
“So tell me. What difference does it make if I know who it is? I’m not going to tell anyone. I’m a vault when it comes to you.”
“The reason is”—she paused—“the reason is because he is in the middle of a re-election campaign.”
“Oh God,” I said. “Please end this. Aviva, you must end this. Think of his wife—”
“She’s awful,” Aviva said. “You always said that yourself.”
“Then think of his sons. Think of his constituency, of the people who have voted for him. Think of his career. Think of your own! Think of your reputation! And if that’s not enough, think of Daddy and of me and of Grandma!”
“Stop being a drama queen. No one will ever find out. We’ll keep it a secret until he can get divorced,” Aviva said.
“Please, Aviva. Listen to me. You have to end this. Or if you can’t end this, put it on ice until he gets the divorce. If it’s really love, it will keep until next year.”
Aviva nodded in a considering way, and I thought I might be getting through to her. She kissed me on the cheek. “Don’t worry. I’ll be careful.” This must be what it’s like when your child joins a cult.