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 ... The five main characters are among my favorite of any recent novel I’ve read. Each is resilient, brave, intelligent, witty and flawed — human, in other words. 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.
...[an] irresistible novel ... The power of Zevin’s book lies in its main characters, a quirky estrogen-laced tribe; the book’s multi-layered structure; and the big-heartedness at its core. Zevin has divided the book into five sections, each representing a key player, and the story gains depth as it moves back and forth in time ... Young Jane Young is a testament to second chances and reclaiming one’s own narrative. It’s a feminist anthem – triumphant, earthy and hopeful. And it’s a terrific read. One can’t help wondering whether and how it may reshape the public perception of Monica Lewinsky.
...don’t get too focused on reliving Monicagate. Zevin’s characters are far more compelling. Ruby’s pen-pal correspondence perfectly captures teen angst and energy. Embeth’s imaginary parrot may seem all too real to those coping with trauma. Rachel’s back story of dating while aging is a novel in itself. But it’s Jane’s reinvention of herself that drives the toughest questions about social media, our fickle appetite for scandal, our compulsion to shame — especially slut-shame — and ultimately how choosing to confront the past can deny it of its power.