Cover Image: Mary Jane

Mary Jane

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Member Reviews

I loved this book and Mary Jane! It brings you right back to early teenage summers when you were on the cusp of  independence. and exposed to adult behavior that you didn't always understand. The activities and evolution of characters will stick with you bringing chuckles and sighs. Terrific summer read!
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Mary Jane is to be Lizzie's nanny.  She quickly comes to love Lizzy even though the Cone family is very different from her family.  I came to love both Mary Jane and Lizzie, they were such great and true characters, you will also like all the people living in the Cone's house, even though they will most likely be different than your experience, but though flawed, they are so human.

Highly recommended.

Received as an ARC E-Book from NETGALLEY.  4/25/21.

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 Showtunes 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.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Once again I find myself enmeshed in a story that I might have actually lived. Mary Jane is a fully believable and likeable character. She wants to be the "good" girl but finds the division to be murky, leading to decisions that might be technically wrong but sure seemed right at the time.

As for her parents, self-righteous co-enablers, all we can do is sigh and wait for Mary Jane to turn 18.
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This book completely surprised me in the best way possible. I fell in love with Mary Jane, Izzy, the Cones, Izzy and Sheba immediately. The pure joy they often felt made me want to be a little part of their family. This was so relatable and magical. Expectations and perceptions are so suffocating and it’s absolutely refreshing to find that lifted like Mary Jane did and like we got to as readers. Will recommend over and over and over.
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If you liked Almost Famous, you'll love this rock-infused novel from Blau. The sense of place, the historical details, and the wonderful story really kept me hooked!
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Completely charming! The cover totally caught my eye, and I loved the description of being “Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones and the Six", a fantastic movie and a fantastic book! Although this is really not exactly like either one, I fell in love with this captivating story of a teenager over one fateful summer in 1970's Baltimore.

Mary Jane's parents are not only right out of the 1950's, they are rigid bordering on outright anti-Semitic and racist. Her father plays golf at their whites-only country club and Mrs. Dillard believes one of a wife's highest callings is to prepare the family meals and create the menus. They are neat, orderly and expect Mary Jane to follow their rules. Imagine Mary Jane's shock when she gets a job as a summer nanny for the Cone family, who are messy, loud and actually show public signs of affection.

Dr. Cone is a psychiatrist who is treating a patient in a very unorthodox way. Jimmy is a famous musician and an addict. His wife Sheba is also a star and they move in with the Cone family for the duration of Jimmy's treatment. Dr. Cone feels it is the best way to remove Jimmy from the pressures of the public eye.

Mary Jane is given free reign over the Cones' young daughter Izzy as well as cooking for the family and tidying up the house. Mary Jane revels in her new responsibilities, and begins to assert herself in other ways as well.

"In my own house, each day was a perfectly contained lineup of hours where nothing unusual or unsettling was ever said. In the Cone family, there was no such thing as containment. Feelings were splattered around the household with the intensity of a spraying fire hose. I was terrified of what I might witness or hear tonight. But along with that terror, my fondness for the Cones only grew. To feel something was to feel alive. And to feel alive was starting to feel like love."

This is a charming, funny, warm and thoughtful story and the narrator Caitlin Kinnunen is a joy. She is a theatre actress and I can't imagine anyone else more perfect for the voice of Mary Jane. If you are an audiobook fan, you also get an extra treat at the end of the book which was amazing!

As Mary Jane begins to realize her parents are not always right and in fact, are prejudiced and closed minded, tensions build. The author avoids heavy-handed drama and instead makes a quiet commentary on family relationships and the rapidly changing American of the 1970's. Mrs. Dillard did have redeeming qualities and Mary Jane does love her mother. I loved their scenes together.

"I thought of our Christmas photos. I’d always thought that waxy strangers-in-an-elevator look was just because no one in my family was comfortable in front of a camera. But now I wondered if it was because no one in my family was comfortable with any other person in my family."

This is a warm and bittersweet novel that really captured 1975. I remember well the music and events referenced in the book. The audiobook was really enjoyable and I highly recommend this one!
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Thank you to NetGalley, William Morrow, and Jessica Anya Blau for the arc in exchange for an honest review. 

Baltimore. 1975. Mary Jane Dillard is a straight laced 14yo living in a Presbyterian household where church, choir, obedience, cooking with her Mother and listening to parent-approved albums is her entire life. Sheltered, she knows nothing about the outside world except what her parents tell her. When asked to be a summer Nanny for the Cone household, her parents agree. 

The Cones are nothing similar to the Dillards. They don't attend church. Their house is completely disorganized, the Mother doesn't cook and none of them wear decent clothing. After Mary Jane gets over her initial shock, she learns to use the skills her Mother has taught her, to take care of Izzy, the Cone's 5yo daughter. One thing the Cones have that the Dillards don't is lots of love thrown about freely. Mary Jane finds she fits in more freely and is more herself when she is at their house. Love is strewn about freely, When Dr. Cone, a psychiatrist, takes on a famous rock star and his equally famous wife, Mary Jane finds that love can be equally messy and beautiful at the same time. 

This book is literally perfect. It was so enjoyable and lovely. There were some questionable situations with drugs, sex, and racism but from this one summer, Mary Jane learns a lifetime of love and what it means to fit into a different mold. Mary Jane’s relationship with Izzy is so special, as is her relationship with the famous couple. Her heart runs deep and the last chapter of the novel brings so much together. Absolutely, a 5 star read. I just loved it.
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This is a really sweet coming of age story set in the '70s in Baltimore. Mary Jane is 14 and takes a summer job watching over 5-year-old Izzy. Raised by strict parents, Mary Jane is, well, not very "wise to the world" but this changes as she's exposed to Izzy's nonconformist mom and dad, who's a psychiatric doctor treating addiction. When the house welcomes in two celebrity guests for treatment, Mary Jane's horizons broaden exponentially.

I loved how simple this book was. Just a girl with a summer job she absolutely loves, being able to dive into her passions for music and cooking. I also adored how freaking great she was as Izzy's caretaker — that really made the book for me. It was just adorable. All of these characters completely came to live in this book.

It is a bit more character-driven, rather than plot driven. Like really nothing huge happens, but it's just a super relatable and sweet story that's a good book to read or listen to when you need a happy, chill escape!
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Thank you to William Morrow, the Book Club Girls and NetGalley for this ARC. 

I really enjoyed Mary Jane. The author had a great feel for the era and setting she was writing about and I was eagerly turning the pages. That said, I did feel as though the ending sort of landed with a whimper and not a roar. The climactic moment doesn't end up having real stakes and some of Mary Jane's internal growth seems to come out of no where.
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Mary Jane sweet innocent Mary Jane lives a  safe sheltered life. When she is offered a summer job being a nanny for the Cone family she is treated to a fun eye opening experience. Sure to be the best summer of her life. This coming of age story set in the 70's was a rocking good time.
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I loved this book! All of the characters were so likable and I thought the story was really believable…even if it was a little out there.
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A lovely coming-of-age story about a 14 year old who is hired as the summer nanny for a five-year old Izzy, daughter of a Jewish psychiatrist and his wife. Dr. Cone is treating a famous patient, whose even more famous wife comes along to live with the Cones for the summer. Some teen angst, but not overwrought, some tension in the adult relationships, but mostly a really enjoyable peak at a slice of life in a Baltimore suburb in 1975 through the eyes of an awakening teen.
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This reminded me so much of Go Ask Alice, which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- I was obsessed with that book in high school. A lot of the themes are the same -- a naive, sheltered, privileged 14 year old is introduced to the world of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Thankfully, Mary Jane has a much happier ending then Alice does. Told from Mary Jane's point of view, some of the writing feels a little stilted. I also found the very harsh anti-semitism and racism difficult to read, though it rings true for the time. All in all, this was a fun summer read. NOT for children!!
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Very engaging story! I enjoyed the historical aspect as well as the coming of age story. Mary Jane was a character worth rooting for
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Thank you @netgalley and @customhouse for the e-ARC of this cute, coming of age story! 

MARY JANE is about a fourteen year old girl (Mary Jane, of course) in 70s Baltimore who gets a job watching five year old Izzy, for the Cone family. What she doesn’t realize is that she’ll be watching this five year old girl while her father, a psychiatrist, hosts a famous couple, while he treats the rockstar husband for addiction over the summer. 

This was such a cute, adorable book that highlighted some important topics, including both racism and antisemitism. You can’t help but majorly dislike Mary Jane’s uptight mother and appreciate the stark contrast between the home Mary Jane grew up in and the love the Cone family shows her.

I listened to a good chunk of this on audio, and the narration was excellent. Highly recommend if you like coming of age stories and books with a 70s/rockstar backdrop!
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14-year-old Mary Jane, from a conservative family in 1970's Baltimore, gets a summer job taking care of a little girl for a psychiatrist and his wife. The family turns out to be the complete opposite of her own: the house is a mess, no one cooks, and the family is very liberal--a fact which Mary Jane keeps from her parents. But then things get really complicated when a heroin-addicted rock star and his celebrity wife move in and Mary Jane is introduced to a whole new world of drugs, rock and roll, and knowledge about sex--and finds the lies to her parents becoming more frequent.

I just fell in love with the characters in this book, It was a really nice coming-of-age story that was a joy to read.
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Mary Jane is a coming-of-age story that is perfect for any music lover out there. I really enjoyed this story and found myself so immersed in the setting (Baltimore) and the time period (1970's).

Mary Jane is an only child from a traditional family. The book takes place over the course of one summer, where she is the babysitter for a neighbor's 5-year-old daughter. The dad is a psychologist who is treating a famous rock star for addiction for the summer. The famous rock star and his famous actress wife have moved into their house. The group of them form a 'found family' over the summer and Mary Jane is opened up to emotions, new music, and different ways of thinking. 

Highly recommend this one for any readers who love music and appreciate a good coming-of-age story. I found this one heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny at points.
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I loved this quick read (around five hours according to Kindle timer). Such a great fun read for a summer day. Loved how fun all the characters are. Watching Mary Jane grow more sure of herself was so enjoyable. Lots of funny moments in this fun book.
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Mary Jane was a delightful read, filled with everything one would want their young daughter to become.  The relationships between Mary Jane and Izzy, and Mary Jane and the Cone family were what kept me wanting more.
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This was such a fun one that put a smile on my face! I would put this one firmly in the “coming-of-age” camp even though our main character is just 14. I loved Mary Jane’s character, she sings in the church choir, loves show tunes, cooking, and gardening with her mom. It’s the early 1970s in Baltimore.

She gets a summer job with a nearby family, caring for Izzy. She encounters a family very different from her own. The mom, Bonnie, rarely cooks or cleans the house. The dad is a psychiatrist and has one exclusive client for the summer. Izzy is a sweet 5-year-old girl who loves to help Mary Jane with cooking, cleaning the house, ironing, and grocery shopping. The atmosphere at their house is one of love and affection, quite different than Mary Jane’s respectable stand-offish parents!

Things get even crazier when Mary Jane meets the exclusive and top-secret summer client – a young rock star, working on his sobriety and his superstar wife. Mary Jane is a little starstruck at first, but who wouldn’t love spending the summer with such a crew? There are serenades at dinner, spontaneous song writing, and a week at the beach. Jimmy and Sheba are quite the power couple! There are some serious issues that come up and Mary Jane has a chance to see how adults can navigate through these difficulties. She comes to view this as her family and feels that she fits in better with them.

Mary Jane is exposed to a whole new world that clashes with her parent’s viewpoint. She gains confidence in her voice and even more comfortable with her body, and it was fun seeing her open up. She also builds a closer relationship with her mother eventually! I really did enjoy this one.
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