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Roxanne Reviews "Mary Jane"

Roxanne reviews Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane is the perfect summer time fiction read set in Baltimore, Maryland and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware during the oxymoronic 1970’s. A decade duly described as an oxymoron considering it was both an era of candid innocence (think of the T.V. shows like All in the Family), and a period of wild decadence (think of Playboy Magazine’s swingers and drugs).

Mary Jane, an only child, is the focal point of the novel. She is simultaneously experiencing teenage maturation while stuck in the middle of the extremes of two conservative parents still clinging to ‘traditional’ values. When she gets the chance to nanny for a summer for two liberal by-products of the 60’s types, she realizes just how uptight (and prejudicially close minded) her parents are. Although her employers may not be innocent or perfect, it is their honesty that helps Mary Jane discover herself as an individual who is simultaneously converging with the universal epiphany that parents are simply fallible humans rather than gods.

For people who came of age in the 1970’s, this book is a retrospective blast involving all the kitsch of the ‘70’s...from Bonne Bell lip gloss and Aqua Net hairspray, to starch ironed sheets, just to name a few. A fun subplot involving a celebrity couple reminiscent of Cher and Gregg Allman, who move in with the groovy parents whom Mary Jane works for, introduce her to everything from sex talk, risque fashions (think crocheted bikinis), and the rock and roll musical Hair.

Many times, people come into BookstoreOne yearning for a book that’s not bleak or trauma filled and Mary Jane is the ticket for a fun, but poignant walk down memory lane.

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04 de out. de 2021

You've captured this book perfectly. I love that you mention "the universal epiphany that parents are simply fallible humans rather than gods" because I saw it as a real strength of the book that the parents weren't demonized and that the freer, more fun family also wasn't held up as perfect.

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