Cover Image: Mary Jane

Mary Jane

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Member Reviews

This may be my favorite read of 2021… it’s the 1970s in Baltimore and 14 year-old Mary Jane is caught between her strict, conservative parents and the free-spirited family she nannies for. Over the summer, Mary Jane helps the Cone family gain structure- not an easy job as Dr. Cone has just taken on a famous musician and his wife as his new live-in clients. The Cones introduce Mary Jane to the world of sex, drugs, rock n roll and give her the confidence to figure out exactly who she wants to be. Jessica Anya Blau completely transports readers to the 1970s and inside the mind of Mary Jane. I thought this book was so heartwarming and transformative; it was fun and the storytelling was masterful. A true ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and a strong contender for my favorite book of the year.
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This book gave me such a feel-good feeling!  Not that it didn't deal with serious topics like drug addiction, relationships, and racism.  The most impactful aspect of this book was discovering and loving yourself and the impact your family can have on your self-worth. 

Mary Jane is a young teen from a prim and proper family in the 1970s.  Her days are extremely predictable.  She's basically her mother's assistant, helping with dinner and housework, and learning how to be a good housewife all the while.  This summer though she's gotten a summer job - a nanny for a local family with a five-year-old little girl named Izzy.  Just walking into the Cones' house for the first time is a culture shock for Mary Jane.  The house is chaos embodied.  She can't figure out who is in charge here.  Mrs. Cone doesn't make dinner, she's not even easy to find when it's time for a meal - who feeds Izzy?  Dr. Cone is just as absent-minded but most of the day he is working out in his garage-turned-office as a psychiatrist. 

Mary Jane starts to bring some order and organization to the Cone house but learns that being messy isn't such a big sin.  This summer Dr. Cone has cleared his whole schedule to host a rock star and his movie star wife while the rocker tries to get sober.  When Mary Jane walks up the day they arrive she is star struck as she realizes the movie star wife is none other than one of her favorite singers and actresses - Sheba!  From there Mary Jane's summer is a dream come true as she finally feels acceptance and love in a way she never has before. 

This book is full of a young girl coming into adulthood and facing hard truths about her own family, prejudice, and the reality of addiction.  I was just as enamored as Mary Jane herself with this story.  I love the growth that Mary Jane has and the way she helps the Cones, Jimmy, and Sheba just as much as they help her.  This was a really great coming-of-age story that was a true pleasure to read.
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4.5 Stars

It's the 1970s and Mary Jane is 14 years old and about to have the best summer of her life. She lives a very organized and regimented life. She goes to church every Sunday and helps her mom keep a tidy home. Every night she helps make dinner so it's on the table for her dad, who barely gives her the time of day. Until she meets the Cones family she was happy with her quiet and introverted life.

Mary Jane is hired by a local family for the summer. Dr. and Mrs. Cones have a daughter who needs looking after. She arrives on her first day and is instantly charmed by Izzy, a wild child redhead who is inquisitive and adorable. The house is a bit of a mess with clutter on the tables and spoiled food in the refrigerator. Mary Jane soon learns that Dr. Cones has taken the summer to focus on only one special client. Mary Jane is sworn to secrecy as two very well known celebrities move into the house. The Cones' house is soon filled with laughter, music, and love. Mary Jane starts to discover more about her self than she ever thought possible and she loves who she is becoming.

I absolutely loved this book!! I was so invested in every single character and fell in love with the whole family. I kept wanting to come back to this book, I could have read it in one sitting. I loved the relationship between Izzy and Mary Jane and how Mary Jane helped to bring some order to the house while still embracing the chaos. I highly recommend this coming of age story!
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Mary Jane is an interesting book about a teenager in the 1970s. She nannies for a family that is very different than her family. They are hiding a rock star and movie star. The story is interesting but didn't draw me in too much. I found the story unique and enjoyed reading about Mary Jane dealing with new situations.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jessica Anya Blau and Caitlin Kinnunen and enjoyed the narration.

Thank you Custom House, Harper Audio and NetGalley for Mary Jane.
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I loved this book! This is a unique and totally warm, funny, and smart coming of age story...both for the main character, 14 year-old Mary Jane, many of the adults surrounding her and also, to a certain extent, America. The story is set in 1970 upper class suburban Baltimore. It is a world of white, waspish, country club members. Your position in society and getting your children into the right schools is all consuming. Life is structured and predictable. This is Mary Jane's world until she takes a job as a summer nanny for a precocious five year old Izzy and her family. That summer is life changing and one she will remember her entire life. Dr. Cone and his wife, Bonnie, don't belong to the country club (they couldn't even if they wanted to because they are....Jewish) Bonnie doesn't cook or clean and rarely wears a bra. They have anatomically correct coloring books and the entire family hugs and talks (openly) and they exude a kind of joy that Mary Jane has never seen before. When a famous couple spends the summer at the house because Dr. Cone is treating the reluctant rock star husband....well life just gets even more crazy. Mary Jane is enveloped in a world she didn't even know existed...and she likes it. Well written and full of nostalgic images for someone who grew up at about this same time, this is an easy to relate-to story, filled with laughter, tears and a big smile as the reader sees all of the transformations and close the book after the last page. Fun. Fun. Fun.
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“It was like they were in a different Roland Park where people weren’t keeping track of each other.  Where people were doing  just what they wanted without concern as to how it was seen,”

 Mary Jane is a sheltered 14 year old who takes a job as a summer nanny for Dr. and Mrs. Cone’s daughter Izzy.  The Cone’s have a very differently lifestyle than Mary Jane’s family.  Mary Jane’s home is neat, orderly, and very stoic.  The Cone’s house is chaotic, loud and full of love and affection. During the summer, Mary Jane brings order and routine while learning to let go and have fun.  

I absolutely loved this book!  The characters were well developed and so relatable.   I  could not read this sweet story fast enough.  

Thank you to Jessica Anya Blau, the publisher, #WilliamMarrow & Custom House, and #NetGalley for #MaryJane.
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Wow! I can't believe I waited so long to read this. Mary Jane is a wonderful coming of age story about a 14 year old girl in the 1970s who takes a job as a summer nanny for an eccentric family in her neighborhood. Mary Jane is raised in a strict, conservative, church-going family who has very traditional views of the role of family members. She is taught traditional female household duties by her mother. When she meets the Cone family, it is a bit of a culture shock for her.  She rises to the challenge of not only caring for the young daughter of the Cones but also the whole family. She cooks and cleans all while teaching young Izzy Cone how to do all these things. When a famous actress and her rock star husband move in to the Cone residence, Mary Jane is exposed to how free life can be and she begins to realize there is more to life than that of a housewife. 

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was entertaining, funny, and full of personal growth for all characters involved. I read this book while on vacation and I am so glad I saved it for then. It is a perfect summer beach/vacation read. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a light read that grabs you from the first few pages. 

I did manage to listen to a portion of the audiobook of Mary Jane.  The narrator, Caitlin Kinnunen, gives the prefect voice to Mary Jane. She has a very lovely singing voice as well. I highly recommend this version as a companion to the book. It brings everything to life. 

Thank you to the publisher, #WilliamMarrow & Custom House, and #NetGalley for allowing me to read this amazing book.
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This book was awesome! I love the characters especially Mary Jane. I was hoping she would gain the confidence to speak up for herself and to her mother and she did. Such a heart warming story! I couldn’t put this book down. Thank you for the advanced copy. I am telling my book club about so they go buy it!
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This was a delightful book about a young nanny in the 1970's and how different her home life was from her nanny life.
Mary Jane is hired to care for Izzy Cone for the summer.  She quickly learns that not all people live in a spotless house and have home cooked dinners that mom makes on a daily basis.  Mary Jane jumps in to the vacant role of mother of the house to care for this family and their live in summer guests.
This is a book of many layers and was a delight to read.  I didn't want it to end.

Mary Jane spends the summer learning about who she wants to be as a person and eventually is able to share this new side of herself with her mother after her job abruptly ends when her photo appears in the newspaper.
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Mary Jane is a coming of age story about a girl getting exposed to the world outside of her parents’ tightly controlled environment.  What she finds at first horrifies, and then mystifies her.

This book has an ensemble cast and I liked nearly everyone.  Izzy was my favorite.  This book takes you along as Mary Jane grows and learns to see the world in new ways.  She is influenced by those around her, and becomes a different person at the end.

I’m not sure why this book is compared to Daisy Jones at all, but still a fun reading experience!
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Mary Jane is a sheltered fourteen-year-old growing up in 1970’s Baltimore.  She lives with her parents, helps her mother with the cooking, sings show tunes with her mother and sings in the church choir. With her mother’s permission, Mary Jane takes a summer position as a nanny to a doctor’s family.  The family is new to the neighborhood so there isn’t much know about them but the father being a doctor makes it acceptable to Mary Jane’s mother.  Inside the Cohn home, Mary Jane finds a life completely different from her own.  Dr. Cohn is treating a rock star for his addiction so he and his wife (a famous actress) are staying in the home also.  Mary Jane blossoms over the summer.  She finds the courage to show her new self to her mother when the summer ends.  
I love this book.  I hated to have to put it down.  I’m going to be looking for more books by this author.
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So... I loved this book. Everything from the setting, storyline, main character, I just thought it was amazing. I thought it was the prefect read for the summer and I found myself to have really enjoyed it. I also liked the mix of heavier topics and lighter topics. Because of this I feel like there was a balance where it had substance, but it didn't feel too heavy as a read. I thought that the story as well as the characters were unique, and I honestly loved the messages that even the least picturesque houses can be the greatest homes. I just love the fact that it was a unique story and I think the ending was great. I overall just found this to be a great read and one that I will be purchasing my own personal copy of.
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This is one of my favorite books of the year! It was so sweet and lovingly told, and I was rooting for Mary Jane all the way through.
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This was a great book! Very quick read and held my attention throughout. The characters were well developed and it took me back in time to the 70's. Very enjoyable read.
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Ahhh such a good coming of age story. I loved seeing Mary Jane come into her own and gain the confidence to stand up to her parents. I really appreciated her doing her own critical thinking and accepting people for who they are not the color of their skin or their differing viewpoints. I loved the 70s vibe and music. Every time Mary Janes internal monologue talked about “being a sex addict” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Oh the joys of puberty.

Tw: racism, anti Semitism, drug addiction, sex addiction, cheating
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This is a coming of age story set in the 1970s. Mary Jane is an only child from a very respected family. The summer she is 14 she has the opportunity to be a nanny for Dr. and Mrs. Cone. They have a five year old daughter named Izzy.

During that summer Mary Jane begins to discover who she is apart from her parents, she questions the way her parents are, why certain people are treated the way they are, what is proper, what is improper, and that her parents and the life they lead isn't all that perfect.

This was a fantastic read. If you grew up in the 70s you will really relate.
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Holy cow, I have to wonder if Jessica Anya Blau was a fly on my wall in 1975 because the parallels of Mary Jane’s life and mine at age 14 were so very similar it was eerie.  Yes there were differences, my parents were not like Mary Jane’s parents in that they were loving and my Mom worked out of the home, but I too was a nanny for a family down the street for several years and their lifestyle was quite different from my own home and while I never lied to my parents I didn’t share things that happened in the home in which I worked.  I felt so connected with Mary Jane and her situation, how her eyes were opened to a world she didn’t know existed, and how she learned she was more than the small circle in which she had always lived and while she appreciated what she learned in her own home, she wanted more in her life.


A coming of age story in a time where the world was changing rapidly and prior to the age of the internet and the 24 hour news cycle, Mary Jane is exposed to a very different way of life, different morals, family closeness she craves, and freedom she’s never experienced before. Mary Jane’s home is orderly; her mother is the quintessential housewife who has dinner on the table when her husband comes home from a hard day at the office. Her father provides for the family, period. He isn’t a bad man he just isn’t interested. The moment Mary Jane walks into the Cone’s home for her first day as a nanny she realizes that life in this home is way different, but she likes it.


As Mr. Cone is a doctor, her parents feel she is working for a respectable family (despite them being Jewish), but they are a bit off kilter. They lack housekeeping and cooking skills, their 5 year old daughter Izzy runs around naked and pretty much fends for herself and Mary Jane knows that she needs to help organize the house as well as watch Izzy.  Then they reveal the reason her help is needed, Mr. Cone will be treating Jimmy (a rock star) for the entire summer (turns out he’s a psychologist) and Mrs. Cone will be entertaining Sheba his wife (who is a well known actress and singer). Mary Jane is sworn to secrecy. Mary Jane knows her parents would never approve of the Cone’s home or the fact Mr. Cone will be treating a rock star with an addiction problem, but she feels so at home in their home, she loves Izzy, and she likes the way Mr. and Mrs. Cone see her. She feels wanted, she feels useful, and she feels alive.


Every day we see Mary Jane change from a girl to a young woman; she’s more confident, she questions things in the world that don’t seem right, and she feels a happiness she’s never known. She is finally liked for the person she is and she begins to love herself. I loved watching her blossom.


It was interesting watching the way the relationships between Mary Jane, the Cones, and Jimmy and Sheba form and build; there was a bond between them all forged by the secrecy and the emotional times they shared throughout the summer. Mary Jane got a swift education in the ways of the world, but also formed relationships where she felt safe and valued. Each experience propelled her journey forward and forced her to realize that there was more out in the world for her to see, enjoy, and experience.

I cannot say enough good things about Mary Jane, I was mesmerized by this story, the characters all grabbed my heart, and the lessons learned by all while sometimes difficult were ones that eventually led them to finding their own happiness. An unconventional coming of age story that was perfectly crafted, Mary Jane is one of my favorite books of 2021.
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This is one that I really wanted to read that has sat on my shelf for far too long. Coming of Age stories have always been one of my favorite genres; ever since I first read the Catcher in the Rye a million years ago. 

Mary Jane is a young 14 yr old girl in 1975 who gets a summer job as a nanny for the Cone family in her neighborhood. She is to watch 5 year old Izzy. Mary Jane’s family is extremely conservative and religious and the Cones are more unconventional. The father, Dr Cone, is a psychiatric who is treating a rock star for addiction issues and the rock star and his wife also move into the Cone House for the summer. MJ quickly falls in with the group where she feels more herself than in her own family. She does bring a lot to the family including her stellar cooking and housekeeping skills and the family helps her open up about life and music.

I really loved this book! People have described it like Daisy Jones and the Six and the movie Almost Famous and I have absolutely no idea why. I don’t think it’s like either of those at all? If you read it without those expectations, I think you will enjoy this book much more. 

This was a very easy read and the pages flew by. I loved the character of Izzy, a little girl with so much spunk. It was a fun book to discuss with my favorite ladies!

Thank you to @netgalley, @goodreads, @customhousebooks and @jessicaanyablau for my ARC copy. Mary Jane is out now!

4.5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
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I love the messages that this book conveys without being preachy in any way and I love the character Mary Jane. What an intelligent, sensitive and courageous 14 year old girl who stands up for herself.
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I was hooked from the start and fell in love with all the characters. I liked how Mary Jane was initially shocked at how they lived and came to love each person for who they were, faults and all. They loved her right away and she at first didn’t know how to handle that.
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