Book Review | Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Authour:
Gabrielle Zevin
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
August 22nd 2017
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I adored Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and was intrigued by the synopsis of Young Jane Young as it focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters.

Young Jane Young is told through multiple perspectives, starting with the mother of the titular “Jane” who is actually Aviva Grossman, a former intern who had an affair with the Florida congressman she worked for. Afterwards, we are filled in on what happened to Aviva now going by the name, “Jane’s” before moving on to the perspective of Embeth, the congressman’s wife. I also liked that we see how Jane’s decisions still have an impact on her life several years later. And it’s interesting how the author chooses to have the last chapter in the book be styled in a Choose Your Own Adventure manner as it gives the reader greater insight into “Jane’s” thought process when she was younger. However, this was a bit confusing at first as I was reading an e-galley copy and couldn’t turn the pages, though I eventually realized that it wasn’t actually a chapter where the reader is actually given the opportunity to “choose” what happens as “Jane” has already made her choices.

It’s wonderful to have women be the dominant voice in this kind of political narrative for once, and Zevin does an excellent job of making each woman feel like a real person that the reader can empathize with. An engrossing, and a surprisingly empowering read at times, Young Jane Young takes the refreshing approach of focusing on the women who are affected by a political scandal making it equal parts entertaining and enlightening.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Authour:storiedlife
Gabrielle Zevin
Format:
Hardcover, 260 pages
Publication date:
April 1st 2014
Publisher:
Viking Canada
Source:
Won in Chatelaine giveaway

Review:

“People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, “What is your favorite book?”

Do you love books about family, love, and good stories? Well, do I have the book for you! Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a heartwarming and inspiring novel that has all of that and so much more.

The book begins with an encounter between a publishing sales representative named Amelia and the owner of Island Books, A.J. Fikry. Needless to say the meeting does not go over too well. The readers soon learn that A.J. has been through a rough time since his wife has passed away and as I got to know more about the man, I grew to like him just a little bit more. I liked that he had strong opinions about book selling even though they made it difficult for him to run his store successfully.

Things dramatically change however when a mysterious package is left in A.J.’s bookstore. Inside this package is something that slowly forces A.J. to change the way he lives his life. He starts becoming less selfish and slowly open up to the community and their tastes out of necessity which endears the locals and other people more to him. Of course there are some things he remains steadfast in (such as his refusal to modernize his store and incorporate things like eBooks and eReaders).

My favourite relationship in the book is A.J.’s new found relationship – and I’m not talking about any romantic ones. The relationship with is one of familial love, and it really brings out the good in him while being adorable from their first meeting. The significance of this relationship can be seen in the passages that mark the start of each new chapter where A.J. writes about different short stories and addresses them to someone named “Maya”. Without spoiling too much I hope, I would have to say that these passages become more affecting once you get to the end of the book and realize when and why A.J. wrote them.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is also a book for those who love their bookstores. I liked that it showed a bit of how the working relationship between a sales representative and bookseller is like. And I agree that it is rare to find someone who knows your tastes so well. With the recent closure of so many independent bookstores, I think this is a good read in that it reminds us of the importance of small bookstores as a place where you can get the personal one on one service that you may find lacking in online websites or even the bigger box stores.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.