BOOK REVIEW: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau


Title: Mary Jane
Author: Jessica Anya Blau
Publication: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Mariner Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 336


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SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

In 1970s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane loves cooking with her mother, singing in her church choir, and enjoying her family’s subscription to the Broadway Show Tunes of the Month record club. Shy, quiet, and bookish, she’s glad when she lands a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house.

The house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, IMPEACHMENT: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeout for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): The doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job—helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife move in.

Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule, and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be. 


**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

I recently purchased this book at my local hometown library.  I thought that the store line seemed something that closely followed my upbringing.  I wanted to read it soon but as most of my books go they end up getting pushed around since I am a mood reader.  So when this book came up for sale with Audible (honestly they should sponsor me with all the name-dropping with every review) I quickly purchased the book and started to read it.  It did take me a bit longer to listen since I have changed jobs and my commute to work has been basically cut in half and since they swear with regularity I couldn’t listen with my children in the car like I sometimes do if I know it is an appropriate book.

Mary Jane is being raised in a very very straight-laced Presbyterian home. There is a menu schedule and a routine that is followed to a T each day, week, month, etc.  She takes a summer nanny job with the doctor who lives in the neighborhood and their lifestyle could not be further from what Mary Jane has been raised.  She finds herself being drawn to this messy, loving family.  Mary Jane brings some semblance of order to their home by cleaning their home and making them nightly home-cooked meals. Will Mary Jane realize that this is the type of family that she has been craving?  This book was good.  I did get annoyed with some of the characters at various times which was enough that I did knock it down a star.  I felt that Mary Jane’s raising mirrored mine at some times.  I was raised in a loving household so that wasn’t the same.  However, the sheltered part does mirror it.  I knew virtually nothing of some things until I got my first job after I graduated.  While I was in high school I worked in a Catholic Retreat in Indiana. My first job after I graduated was in a hospital, in housekeeping, close to my home.  I was kind of awoken to the world at that point.

I loved the relationships that these characters had.  They carried themselves in different ways yet they seemed to mesh well.  My heart broke for Izzy when all the stuff went down with Mary Jane and her parents.  It was so hard for a small child to figure what was going on at that point.  I loved watching the relationship blossom between her little charge and the main character.  She taught her so many things while she was actually cleaning and made it fun and didn’t make it seem like work.  My biggest gripe with the book was some of the secondary characters.  I thought that some of them were way to wimpy and that was something that was a bit overboard.  Some of the sexual descriptions were unnecessary especially since there was a young child present at times.  There is a warning at the beginning of the book, I believe so you are aware.  I really did enjoy this book and would probably search out more books by this author in the future.  

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