Young Jane Young Summary & Study Guide

Gabrielle Zevin
This Study Guide consists of approximately 39 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Young Jane Young.
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Young Jane Young Summary & Study Guide Description

Young Jane Young Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Zevin, Gabrielle. Young Jane Young. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2017. Print.

The book begins with the first section, “Bubbe Meise,” told from the perspective of Rachel. Rachel is a 64-year-old divorced woman. She lives alone and does not have any communication with her daughter, Aviva. In flashbacks, we learn that when Aviva was a junior in college, she started working as an intern with congressman Levin. Aviva told Rachel about the affair, and Rachel encouraged Aviva to end the relationship before it got entirely out of hand. Rachel could see that Aviva had no intention of doing so, and so she asked her mother for advice. Her mother suggested that she go to Embeth, Levin’s wife, and tell her about the affair, in the hopes that Embeth would force Levin to stop seeing Aviva. Rachel does as her mother suggests. She thinks the affair is over, but then Aviva and Levin get into a car accident together and the investigation uncovers their affair. Everyone in Florida becomes obsessed with the story, especially after it is discovered that Aviva has an anonymous blog online about the affair. Aviva gets depressed and spends all her time hiding at her mother’s house, reading children’s books. Rachel and Aviva got into a fight, and then Aviva left the state without telling her.

In section two, “Wherever You Go, There You are,” the perspective switches to Jane Young, which is the name that Aviva Grossman took after she left Florida. She works as an event planner in Maine and she lives with her eight year old daughter, the precocious and talented Ruby. One day, a couple comes into Jane’s office to hire her for their wedding. Jane agrees to do the wedding for Wes and Franny, even though she despises Wes, an aspiring politician. After the wedding, Wes confronts Jane and tells her that he knows she is really Aviva. Jane remains calm and uses some secret information she learned about his wife in order to blackmail him into keeping quiet about her past.

Section three, “Thirteen, or a Few Interesting Facts About Maine,” is told from Ruby’s perspective. The whole section is told in emails written by Ruby to her pen pal, Fatima, who lives in Indonesia. Ruby is 13 and extremely intelligent. Ruby tells Fatima that her mother is running for mayor against Wes. During the campaign, Ruby finds out about her mother’s secret history and gets furious. She thinks her mother is a liar and a “slut,” so she runs away to Florida to try and find Levin, whom she thinks is her father.

Section four, “Angel in the House,” is told from Embeth’s perspective. Embeth is Levin’s wife, and up until this section she is hardly mentioned at all. The whole section takes place on the day of her thirtieth wedding anniversary party. Embeth wakes up and sees Levin off to DC for a day trip. He is in the middle of reelection and will be back later for the party. As soon as he leaves, an imaginary parrot that Embeth hallucinates appears. Last year, Embeth had cancer and nearly died. The cancer is now supposedly gone, but she is still physically and mentally frail. She goes to the doctor to have a suspicious new lump inspected, and then gets a call from Levin’s assistant saying that Aviva Grossman’s daughter is at the office, claiming to be Levin’s daughter. Embeth goes to pick Ruby up and drop her off with Rachel, but she cannot get ahold of Rachel. Embeth gets stuck with Ruby, and the two end up unexpectedly bonding. Eventually, Rachel comes to pick Ruby up and Embeth leaves to go get ready for her anniversary party. Levin does not show up until she is halfway through giving the speech alone. When he arrives, the parrot disappears.

Section five, “Choose,” is told from young Aviva’s perspective, though it is unique in that it is told in the second person. The section starts on her first day of work as an intern for Levin. Aviva, who is curvy, wears a tight and outfit on her first day of work, and her boss calls her into the office and tells her she needs to buy new clothes before she can come back. Aviva starts to cry in the empty office, but then Levin comes in and comforts her. Aviva is so upset by the experience that she starts a blog to vent about the unfair treatment.

Shortly after this, Aviva and Levin begin dating one another. They date throughout the school year, and then he breaks up with her just before summer. After they break up, though, he calls Aviva, and they get back together. Aviva gets hired on in the campaign office because she is such an amazing intern, but she decides to quit so that she can also try and quit Levin, who she knows is bad for her but whom she cannot help but be drawn to. Before her final two-weeks are up, Aviva and Levin get into a car accident and the affair is made public. Aviva’s life crumbles, and she gets very depressed. She spends all her time reading children’s books. One day she calls Levin. His assistant, Jorge, comes to her house to tell her in person not to contact Levin anymore. Aviva and Jorge sleep together once, and she gets pregnant. She asks her grandmother for money and moves to Maine, where she starts an event planning business. She cuts off ties with her family and past and changes her name. She lives quietly for over a decade, and then she decides to get back into politics and run for mayor of her town. The truth about her identity comes out during the election, and her daughter runs away to Florida. Aviva calls her mother and her mother brings Ruby home. The three women reunite and old wounds are healed when Aviva reconciles her past with her present. In the end of the novel, she goes to the polls to vote for herself as mayor.

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