This sly, exhilarating novel takes on slut-shaming . . . and manages to be hilarious in the process.”—People(Book of the Week)“Maybe with enough determination and love and support, women can choose their own adventures. They can start, like Aviva, by choosing not to be ashamed. In this life-affirming novel, Zevin doesn’t make that look easy, but she makes it look possible.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post “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. It’s the sort of book that invites us to examine our long-held beliefs and perceptions . . . It has a heart. And a spine. It’s exactly, I would argue, what we need more of right now.” —Chicago Tribune “A smart, intersectional feminist tour de force.” —Washington Times “Another charming and funny winner by the author of the 2014 best seller The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, about a woman at midlife confronting, along with her mom and daughter, a sex scandal from her youth. The perfect end-of-summer read.”—AARP, The Magazine "[A] warm-hearted and witty book about what it means to reinvent yourself because you simply have no choice but to do so.”—BookRiot“This book will not only thoroughly entertain everyone who reads it; it is the most immaculate takedown of slut-shaming in literature or anywhere else. Cheers, and gratitude to the author.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review “Splendid . . . A witty, strongly drawn group of female voices tells Aviva’s story . . . [Zevin] has created a fun and frank tale. Her vibrant and playful writing, and the fully realized characters taking turns as narrator, bring the story a zestful energy, even while exploring dark themes of secrecy and betrayal. Zevin perfectly captures the realities of the current political climate and the consequences of youthful indiscretions in an era when the Internet never forgets.” —Booklist “Presenting a sharp send-up of our culture’s obsession with scandal and blame, this novel pulls at the seams of misogyny from all angles . . . Likely to be a popular book club pick.” —Library Journal “Satisfying and entertaining.” —Publishers Weekly
Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry) offers a satisfying and entertaining story of reinvention and second chances in the wake of a political sex scandal. Aviva Grossman was far and away the most capable intern working in the Florida district office of her local congressman—until their affair was exposed and the subsequent national scandal destroyed her reputation (though, tellingly, not the congressman’s) and doused her political aspirations. Fast-forward more than a decade: Aviva, a single mom, has legally changed her name to Jane Young, moved to small-town Maine, and applied her logistical competence to running her own event planning business. When the town matriarch encourages Jane to run for mayor, her youthful indiscretions threaten to derail her tentative foray back into the political arena. Divided into sections, each focusing on a different woman—Aviva’s mother, Jane; her 13-year-old daughter, Ruby; the congressman’s wife; and Aviva—the novel’s structure means that plot points are occasionally re-trod, though sometimes with surprising new insights. Zevin also plays with form, crafting Ruby’s section as a series of frequently hilarious emails to her Indonesian pen pal and the final section like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. Real-world parallels aside, Jane’s story is in the end less about political scandal and more about gaining strength and moving on from youthful missteps. (Aug.)
Zevin's newest novel (after the best-selling The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry) hinges on a political scandal. As a young, ambitious congressional intern, Aviva Grossman ignores her mother's warnings and refuses to break off a secret affair with her very married and very public figure of a boss. She compounds her error in judgement by blogging about it, misguidedly thinking she would remain anonymous. When the relationship is inevitably revealed, her blog and identity soon follow, tanking her burgeoning political career. The main narrative focuses on how scandal affects the lives of several women over the years, told from each of their perspectives. Aviva's mother explores her newly single life; adult Aviva finds herself inhabiting a different world than the one she had planned for herself; daughter Ruby reconciles the mother she knows with the infamous intern; and Embeth, the congressman's wife, offers her own take. VERDICT Presenting a sharp send-up of our culture's obsession with scandal and blame, this novel pulls at the seams of misogyny from all angles, some of them sure to be uncomfortable for readers. Likely to be a popular book club pick. [See Prepub Alert, 3/27/17; library marketing.]—Julie Kane, Washington & Lee Lib., Lexington, VA
When a young political intern in South Florida has an affair with her boss, it leads to disaster—at least at first.The best thing to come out of the Monica Lewinsky scandal since Lewinsky's own magnificent TED talk, Zevin's (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, 2014, etc.) fourth adult novel reinvents the familiar story more cleverly and warmly than one would have thought possible. Five sections come at the situation from different angles. The first is called "Bubbe Meise" ("Old Wives' Tale" in Yiddish), and in it we hear the delightful old-Jewish-lady voice of Rachel Shapiro, a South Floridian who's dipping her toe into online dating. She's on a date that's going quite well until the fellow asks her daughter's name, and she tells him it's Aviva, and he remarks that that was the name of that awful girl who got in trouble with Congressman Levin back in 2001. "You really don't remember her? Well, Rach, she was like Monica Lewinsky.…It was a blight on South Florida, a blight on Jews, a blight on politicians if that's even possible, a blight on civilization in general." That's the end of that beautiful relationship. Rachel gives us the outlines on the debacle, after which her daughter disappeared, 13 years ago now. "I have a cell phone number. She calls me once or twice a year. I believe I have a grandchild. Yes, I would call this a sadness in my life." To reveal more would be to give away too much, since part of the joy here is the unexpected way the story unfolds. I can tell you, as Rachel Shapiro might say, that you will hear from the eponymous Jane Young, who's a wedding planner in a small town in Maine, and that one of the sections is an adroit takeoff on the structure of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, also seen recently in Nathan Hill's The Nix. Must be generational. References to Monica Lewinsky herself are a running theme, recalling the brutal true story underlying this delicious fictional one. This book will not only thoroughly entertain everyone who reads it; it is the most immaculate takedown of slut-shaming in literature or anywhere else. Cheers, and gratitude, to the author.