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Mary Jane: A Novel von Jessica Anya Blau
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Mary Jane: A Novel (Original 2021; 2021. Auflage)

von Jessica Anya Blau (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
16522131,146 (3.88)4
Titel:Mary Jane: A Novel
Autoren:Jessica Anya Blau (Autor)
Info:Custom House (2021), 320 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek


Mary Jane: A Novel von Jessica Anya Blau (2021)

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full of joy and love ( )
  jfaltz | Oct 16, 2021 |
An exuberant coming of age story set in the summer of ‘75. Fourteen year old Mary Jane steps out of her sheltered world for a summer babysitting job in an unconventional family’s home and learns a lot about love and life. Such as how there are many different ways to be a family and that adults, even famous ones, can have problems too. Main character Mary Jane and her young charge Izzy are both adorable and their bond feels so genuine I couldn’t help but smile as I pictured them out and about or together in the kitchen making birds in a nest for breakfast. I don’t want to say much about the other characters because, well, spoilers but they are all delightful too.

(BTW, The book’s dust jacket compares this to Daisy Jones & The Six but I don’t agree, it's much lighter and far more upbeat. I’d say Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Be Frank With Me is a better comparison.) ( )
  wandaly | Oct 6, 2021 |
Wow. It's been awhile since I've read a fun book so quickly. I felt like I was going down a fast and wild race course with all the suspense.

The year was 1975 with a wide generation gap between the conservatives and liberals. Mary Jane's was an only child at 14 years old and her parents were on the top list of old-fashioned values. Everything was about image. They lived in a nice home. Her father worked as a lawyer while her mother took care of the home. The family went to church every Sunday. They were members of a club in Baltimore. The father read the newspaper while her mother cooked dinner.

Mary Jane decided that summer camp wasn't her thing. She would rather spend time taking care of a five-year-old, Izzy, as her nanny. In just a few months, this experience changed her from being an innocent young girl to one that was exposed to a family that was the total opposite of hers. They talked freely about sex, the house was messy and unorganized, the mother didn't cook, and love was affectionally shown.

There's more: Izzy's father, Dr. Cone, was a psychiatrist taking care of one patient in his home, a rock star, Jimmy, addicted to drugs for the summer. His wife was a famous actress, Sheba. She said, "We're all addicts of some sort...Part of being alive is to figure out the balance between what you want...,and don't have." Of course, Mary Jane's parents had no clue that their daughter was being exposed to this group of free thinkers.

I loved this book. It made me laugh, cry and brought back memories of the past in so many ways. My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read this advanced copy to be released in May, 2021. ( )
  Jacsun | Oct 5, 2021 |
It's 1975, and 14-year-old Mary Jane takes a job for the summer babysitting 5-year-old Isabelle "Izzy" Cone. Mary Jane lives a happy, sheltered life controlled by her mother, who is a 1950s caricature of an orderly Stepford wife gone mad. Mary Jane likes to cook, clean, sing show tunes, and sing in church. But the Cones are a 1975 caricature of laid-back grooviness, and Izzy is a live wire. Mary Jane immediately takes to Izzy and providing some order and good home-cooked meals to her home. Meanwhile, the Cones, with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Cone's rock- and TV-star resident patients, Jimmy & Sheba, return the favor by opening Mary Jane's horizons to possibilities she never imagined, starting with objects strewn about the house and ending with free love and talk therapy and beyond.

Mary Jane is loveable and sympathetic. The other characters, however, are one-note; Izzy's being a particularly shrill note. She is always shouting, being lovable, loving anything Mary Jane wants her to do. She never gets cranky or difficult.

Even so, I liked the story. I like how it showed that Mary Jane's orderly well-trained background was a plus as well as a sometime hindrance to her; she both contributes and takes from her relationships with the others. As things come to a head with her parents at home, she realizes and tries to explain to her mother that much of what is so loveable about her, Mary Jane, why the others love and need her, are things that came directly from her upbringing; her mother should be proud. And eventually, she is. The father's another story.

Blurbs on the cover draw apt comparisons to the movie ALMOST FAMOUS. There it's a sheltered, controlled male who comes into the orbit of rock stars, whose Mom back home has to be made to realize that his growing up and apart is necessary, and that she can not "approve" but still be proud of who he is. ( )
  Tytania | Sep 25, 2021 |
Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a 2021 Custom House publication.

Mary Jane, a fourteen-year-old from Baltimore accepts a summer job babysitting five-year old Izzy Cone. Izzy’s father is a psychiatrist who takes on a famous rock star with a serious drug problem.

The famous musician and his actress wife, moves into the home for the entire summer, a home that is already chaotic. Despite the respectable outward appearance, the Cone’s do not keep house, cook healthy meals, or live any sort of conventional life- a far cry from Mary Jane’s home life, where everything is prim and proper, neat and orderly.

If her mother had even the slightest clue how Mary Jane was spending her summer, and with whom, she would never allow her to continue babysitting. Meanwhile, Mary Jane is having the time of her life. She takes care of Izzy, and the entire household. She shops, cooks, straightens the house, and listens to everyone’s problems… some very adult problems- and comes to realize how important it is to have some structure in one's life.

But, as the summer progresses, she also realizes that love, expressing your feelings, and spending time for your loved ones- is equally important- which is something that is missing from her own home.

Her education, and awakening promises a break in the chain from her super conservative… and racist parents, and a future where Mary Jane steps outside the sheltered confines of her current life, and into the world, with a better understanding of how to blend the best of both environments she lived through during the summer of 1975.

Mary Jane takes her usual stability and expands it- coming to a better understanding of others around her, but most importantly an understanding of who she is, deep down, what kind of person she wants to become- learning to think independently, while learning from her own personal experiences.

This is such a quirky, offbeat tale, but I would imagine that most people will turn the last page feeling utterly delighted with our wonderful, wonderful, wonderful protagonist- Mary Jane.

This young woman was such a pleasure and her character, along with little Izzy, is what makes this story work.

I do have one slightly preachy concern- due to the attitudes of Mary Jane’s parents, it is easier to judge them more harshly than the Cone’s.

But, before you pick on side over the other- remember the Cone’s were neglectful parents, lived in filth, and had frank sexual conversations in front of the fourteen-year-old babysitter, for heaven's sake!

Yes, I know, what you are thinking, and no, I didn’t miss the point of the story. I just felt that, as ugly the racism is, it doesn’t justify or redeem the Cone’s lifestyle or behavior. I also don't think we should give the celebrities a pass either- just because they are famous.

I think that’s part of the lesson Mary Jane learned and it’s a lesson that will serve her well.

I couldn’t have been prouder of Mary Jane- she handles herself beautifully. If only the adults in her life had a small portion of her intelligence and grace, and could open their hearts half as wide…

Overall, a super wacky coming of age story geared toward adults- (beware the YA label)- that captures the odd juxtapositions of the seventies.

Despite some uncomfortable topics, Izzy and Mary Jane will charm your socks off!!

4 stars ( )
  gpangel | Sep 20, 2021 |
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Mrs. Cone showed me around the house.
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