Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Susanne’s Review:

Is it possible to come of age in a mere summer?  For fourteen-year-old Mary Jane, the answer is a resounding yes.

The year is 1970, the place is Baltimore.  

Mary Jane Dillard is a teenager whose life is filled with singing in her church choir, cooking with her mom every day, and listening to show tunes.  Outspoken and worldly, she is not.  When asked to be a nanny for another family for the summer, her parents agree.  After all, the home is respectable, what could go wrong?  

The Cones however are nothing like the Dillards nor do they fit into any box. Love is strewn about freely, something Mary Jane has never seen as she has never been told nor said I love you to anyone.  When Dr. Cone, who is a Psychiatrist, takes on a special client and his wife for the summer, Mary Jane’s life becomes even more interesting.  Together, this makeshift family bonds together, with Mary Jane becoming the central character. 

It is through this experience that Mary Jane stands up for herself and learns who she wants to be.  Mary Jane is a gem: strong, smart, and oh so sweet.  From the start, I was immediately swept up in her story.  Mary Jane’s relationship with Izzy Cone stole my heart as did her relationship with the entire Cone family who treated her like a daughter.  That said, not every relationship in this novel is picture-perfect, which may be a testament to the time frame during which the novel took place or simply in the way the characters are written.  All in all, however, “Mary Jane” is an absorbing, fantastical read which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Thank you to NetGalley, William Morrow, and Custom House, and Jessica Anya Blau for the arc.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads.

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