Cover Image: Mary Jane

Mary Jane

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Member Reviews

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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I really loved this book! The coming of age story of Mary Jane is such an intriguing one, and I found I didn't want to put it down. I loved the 1970s setting, and the details helped me feel like I was right there! Mary Jane is a compelling, emotional book with so much to offer that will stick with readers for a long time.
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A charming book set in the 1970s, Nixon Era about a transformative summer for young teenage Mary Jane Dillard. She decides to get a summer job and looking after Izzy for the new family in the posh Baltimore neighborhood seemed perfect. Unfortunately, the Cone family isn’t the respectable family as her parents expected, starting with them being Jewish. Mary Jane’s conservative family and private school upbringing shielded her from so much, that when she heard about sex addiction, she assumed she was a sex addict, despite never even having kissed anyone. 

The Cone household soon included two more, a famous married couple, a tv star and her rock star husband who Dr. Cone treats for addictions. Mary Jane quickly overcomes being star-struck over the couple and ends up being the only adult in the house as no one else cleans or knows how to cook, although there is a lot of love. This love and affection are something Mary Jane is missing from her home, and didn’t even know it.

The book is surprising and has a touch of humor throughout. Little Izzy is such a delight! And I love how the book showed the growth and transformation of Mary Jane. The writing was deft and seamless so you are just immersed into the story, as it should be.
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What a trip through the 70's!! I was born at the end of the 70's so I don't think I could relate to much of what was going on, but wow what a time to be alive. I loved this coming of age story. Mary Jane was a delight and I really wish she had been my babysitter. I think the growing up that she did was just fascinating. 

I enjoy character driven stories and I know that sometimes they do drag for people, but never for me. I loved getting to know the character within these pages and there were certainly some characters. 

I was lucky enough to have audio as well as ebook. I flew through the audio in one day. I just could not stop listening. The narrator just brought this story to life so well. 

4.5 big stars from me.
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Loved this book!  Thank you to netgalley for the advance e-copy.  Have already recommended it to several library patrons and used it in our monthly book box.
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This is one of my favorite books now!!! I love this book. Mary Jane touched so many with her naivety, and just plain sweetness. Outstanding read. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the arc of this book in return for my honest review. Receiving this book in this manner had no bearing on this review.
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I loved this book. I loved reliving the 70’s and thought the characters were all likable in their different ways. I thought the author did a good job of wrapping up an unusual story in a believable way.
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What a fun read!  Mary Jane becomes a summer nanny to Izzy. Mary Jane comes from a very conservative family and Izzy's is anything but conservative.  Jimmy, an addict and his partner move into Izzy's house and Mary Jane learns a lot about growing up.  A great read.
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Such love for this book!!!  Mary Jane comes from a straight laced household and becomes a summer nanny for the Cone family…a household the polar opposite of Mary Jane’s.  This is a book that you don’t want to miss out on!  Heartwarming, funny, and a fun era that not many books take place during.
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The summer of 1975, 14 year-old Mary Jane takes a nanny job in her affluent Baltimore neighborhood.  Until she enters the Cones’ chaotic, colorful home, Mary Jane has lived a life of country clubs, church clothes, and carefully planned meals. At the Cones’, dinners are spur of the moment decisions, housekeeping is not a top priority, and no one seems concerned much with community standing.  Mary Jane is tasked with taking care of 5 year-old Izzy while Mr. Cone, a psychiatrist, is planning to put all of his energy into helping a rock star reach sobriety, and Mrs. Cone entertains his wife.

As Mary Jane grows closer to the Cone family, and to Jimmy (the rock star) and Sheba, she begins to question how and why things in her own family are as they are.  

Things I enjoyed about this book: Mary Jane’s relationship with Izzy, and the ways in which she experienced being mothered by other women other than her own. I often enjoy coming of age novels, and always enjoy when very rigid upbringings are “corrupted.”  Using a 14 year-old narrator in an adult novel was an interesting choice, but I think the right one here, because Mary Jane’s naivete is necessary for the storyline here.

Things that didn’t hit for me: the doctor/patient relationship between the Cones and Jimmy and Sheba was enmeshed enough that it made me uneasy. While I can appreciate a sexual awakening, Mary Jane’s ongoing concerns that she’s a “sex addict” are too much. I also felt like the narrative fell a bit flat.  Readers should be aware that there are discussions in this book that are consistent with the time, but antisemetic and racist in nature.

I think this book will resonate more with readers who, similar to Mary Jane, may have been raised in rigidly conservative settings, and found themselves surprised and excited by counterculture as they first experienced it.  

Thanks to William Morrow and Net Galley for a digital copy of this book to review..  All opinions are my own.
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I wobbled between a 4-5 star rating and give this a 4.5 rating!  It really reminded me of Emma Cline's book "The Girls" which was another great coming of age story.  This is not my normal go to type of story but I thought I would give this one a try and I'm really happy I did.  The protagonist is a 14 year old who is going to have the nanny job of the year, unbeknownst to her when she accepts the position with her neighbors, The Cones'.  When the family hosts a couple, famous musicians Sheba and Jimmy,  Mary Jane has a big secret to keep, especially from her straight laced parents.  Over the summer, Mary Janet begins to blossom and come into her own personalities, interests and talents.  I love the way the author crafts Mary Janes' coming into her personality, relationship with her family and how important she becomes in the lives of the Cones.  This is a great book, a wholesome read, exciting characters, and an all around fun story.
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A delightful coming of age story set it in 1970's "Bawlmer." The 14 y/o protagonist, Mary Jane, takes a babysitting gig and finds herself entangled in a summer of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.
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