Cover Image: Mary Jane

Mary Jane

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Member Reviews

I loved Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau. Hands down the best book I have read all year. This is a must read book.
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I didn’t have any expectations of this book, and I went in knowing nothing of the story line. I loved the relationship between Mary Jane and Izzy. A beautiful coming of age story!
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Review;


While it was definitely a summer of learning there’s other families out there that are more accepting of the world, I felt like we had two completely drastic families, but yet, the Cones kind of get out scot-free. Like the fact your child is being neglected and is only washed because a 14 year old is staying later to do so, is.. just not right. The Dillards and their racism, antisemitism, classism, women’s place is in the kitchen..ism was wrong and glad Mary Jane was is able to finally see that in order to be a decent person, I kept asking with the Cones, “who is in charge?” Y’all throwing dishes and breaking them on the floor and a teenager is the one responsible enough to think it should be cleaned up so no one hurts themselves? As a mom, I just cringed. 

I loved Mary Jane Dillard. Her innocence (she thought she was a sex addict because she couldn’t stop thinking of the word sex addict or thought of sexual things) but also, her wisdom was infectious. Her parents made a disgusting analogy in regard to “their kind” and then to those that are Jewish, to which she responded, “So, does that make Jesus that then?” I also loved Izzy. Honestly I wanted to go find CPS grab Izzy, request to foster her and bath her in a bubble bath. Yes, her parents loved her, but that love didn’t fill the pantry, or bathe the child.
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I really enjoyed this coming of age story, it’s full of human imperfection and love and messy emotions as all good coming of age stories should be. 

It’s not perfectly Almost Famous or Daisy and the Six but it does remind of both in some ways. The characters are believable and empathetic and Mary Jane, the narrator, is an enjoyable voice to read.
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I wanted to love this with the comp titles, but it fell a little short for me. I enjoyed Mary Jane's story of coming out of her shell and having her eyes opened to the world beyond her parents' stuffy, strictly religious upbringing. The contrasts between her own family with the Cones was stark and a bit exaggerated. The pacing slowed about halfway through and was a slog to the end. And the ending itself felt rushed, as Mary Jane's mother seemed to do a total 180 without having the character arc in place to warrant her sudden change of heart. So all in all, an intriguing story that suffered from underdevelopment.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

One of my favorites of 2021 so far!   You won't be able to resist falling in love with the quirky cast of characters in Mary Jane!  

Mary Jane's upbringing clashes with the chaotic family she will be with for the summer.   Will her stoic lifestyle be able to connect with the cluttered, unrestrained lives of those living in the Cone house?  Throw in a helping of sex (addicts), drugs & Rock N Roll (stars) and will Mary Jane be able learn and grow or head down the wrong path that her church going family has always warned her about!  The perfect Summer/Beach Read filled with fun, quirky characters and a story that will stick with you for a while!

Those familiar with Baltimore setting will instantly feel at home and will vividly see the streetscape scenes unfold in your mind.  

Have been hearing about this one for 9 months & for good reason.
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This is one of the best if not THE best coming-of-age books I've ever read.  I could easily identify with Mary Jane because at 14, I was that same naive, prim and proper young girl that Mary Jane was.  I babysat in summers too though alas I never had rock stars or movie stars show up in my life like Mary Jane.  My head would have exploded.  Heck, my head would explode if it happened to me now (long past 14 years old).  Mary Jane was responsible and mature beyond her years, and she provided stability and structure for Izzy that was sadly lacking from her parents.  Mary Jane's own parents were stiff and strict - light years away from the situation in which she now found herself.  Through the summer, she came to realize that not everything was so cut and dried in life.  Just because someone was a different race or religion or had a different lifestyle didn't make them bad as her parents had taught her.  

The writing is excellent and the characters are real and vivid.  The story is heartwarming and ends on a happy note.  What more can you want?!!
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Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a touching and sweet coming of age story. In a refreshing shift, the main character transforms subtly instead of transforming radically. She is less innocent and more aware of the wider world after a summer spent nannying for a free-spirited family. However, Mary Jane retains a sweetness while discovering her inner strength. The author was able to capture what it feels like to realize there are different ways of existing in the world. This book was entertaining and the characters were likeable and well-developed. It will be recommended to fans of Anne Tyler and Alice McDermott.
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This was a great coming of age story taking place over a transformative summer. I also felt like it was a love story to the 1970s and Baltimore. I grew up an hour outside the city and my husband is from the area, so it was fun to read about the area during that time. My MIL and SIL live in Roger’s Forge!

I thought the author did a fantastic job capturing the teenage voice, as did the narrator on the audiobook. I loved the singing on the audiobook. It greatly added to the depth of the story.

As I was reading/listening, I kept comparing the parenting styles of Mary Jane’s mom and Mrs. Cone. Mary Jane’s mom taught her the skills to help the Cone family, but the Cone family showed her a different type of mother.

I liked Izzy as comic relief, but I also felt she highlighted the impending/ongoing maturity of Mary Jane. I think we can all think back to a time during our teenage years when we turned the corner into “adulthood.”

I liked the quote: “To feel something, was to feel alive.”

Overall, I highly recommend this book; especially on audio. I think it would make a great summer read as well, as that matches the setting.

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for this advanced reader’s ebook.
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I loved this quirky, unique coming of age story. The writing is phenomenal, the pacing of the story perfection. I will read anything this author puts out.
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It turns out you can judge a book by its cover! Mary Jane is a delightful coming of age story centered in Baltimore in the 1970's. Strait-laced Mary Jane is the summer nanny for Izzy and her hippie parents - add in sex, drugs, rock and roll, and a little bit of Hollywood and you end up with a wildly fun summer read. I hated for the book to end and find myself wishing I could buy a copy of Jimmy's album. 

Thank you William Morrow and Custom House and NetGalley for this ARC.
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Mary Jane is a coming of age story of a girl in the '70's. It's marketed as "General Fiction (Adult) | Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction" and I would say it's more like Young Adult Historical Fiction.
It really gives me the whole dysfunctional family/doctor vibes of "Running with Scissors".

I felt the characters were a bit too one dimensional for me and felt a little cliche. Also, there was a semi-negative discussion about Jewish people early on that rubbed me the wrong way. 

Gorgeous cover and concept, just not for me.
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Mary Jane is 14 years old in the 1970s when her life changes forever. A good student, involved with her church and church choir, Mary Jane has happily spent time with her parents, learning to cook and maintain a household. Her dreams of the future life don’t stray far from her home and community. This summer, though, she has her first job babysitting for the daughter of a local physician. Her mother heartily approves as nothing could be safer than working for a respectable doctor!  Mary Jane soon discovers that life inside the doctor’s house is very different from the one she’s used to. Utter chaos reigns especially when a famous rock star and his wife come to stay for the summer.
Mary Jane is a delight. It is a “coming of age” novel for Mary Jane and all of the characters and maybe even some readers. Mary Jane’s worldview is expanded as she navigates through the chaos of life in the Cone home. Her very conservative upbringing doesn’t prepare her for the Cones' liberal, laissez-faire lifestyle. Just as the intersection of differing lifestyles, ideologies, and behaviors challenge Mary Jane to evolve, the doctor’s family, her own family, and even the rock star and his wife face the same reality.
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I really enjoyed this story so much more than I thought I would. I knew I was going to like it but I ended up loving it! The narrator was so fun and I loved the whole dynamics of her home life vs nanny / house helper life vs her discovering who she is and who she wants to be. A wonderful period piece coming of age novel!
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Very enjoyable novel. A young girl, Mary Jane- 14 year old - becomes a summer nanny for a psychiatrist and his wife for their little girl. It is bizarre that a psychiatrist would hire a 14 year old even as a mother’s helper type nanny. The bizarreness starts there and carries in throughout. The Dr is treating a celebrity in his home for her heroine addiction and she meets him and his wife. It is a cute story that has some very deep topics but I love how it was done. I loved following along with Mary Jane’s summer and couldn’t wait to see how it would end.

Thank you Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Delightful historical fiction novel set in early 70's Baltimore.  Fourteen year old Mary Jane takes a summer position as a nanny to 5 year old Izzy, in a neighboring home of Dr. Cone and his wife, people her mother deems "respectible" because he is a doctor and they live in the "right" section of town.  Soon, Dr Cone is treating a rock star, Jimmy, who has moved in with his starlet wife, Sheeba, to battle his addictions.  This a true coming of age story, as Mary Anne learns about a completely different familly life than the structured, organized, prototypical home in which she grew up.  Her summer centers around Izzy, all while cooking, cleaning, and lovingly getting to be part of a different, expanded family who treat each other differntly than her own.  This opens her eyes to racism, antisemitism, and the changing world of 1976.  Several historical errors really irked me - but this was a very worthwhile and enjoyable read.
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Mary Jane's parents are strict, conservative, a bit snooty and boring. They allow her to take a summer job as a nanny. The family she is working for is the exact opposite of everything Mary Jane knows. Her eyes are opened to a different way of life and the vision of the possibilities her own future could hold.

 This was definitely a fun read that I breezed through in just a few days. Set in the 70's, it gives off that free loving spirit that still lingered in the air from the 60's.  Mary Jane is a little naive about sex, drugs and music, that she is now being exposed to daily in the Cones household. But she seems to know more than any of the adults in that house about cooking and cleaning. Mary Jane is torn between two completely different families with different values and she is teetering between the two trying to find what's right for her. The book does touch on some instances of racism and stereotyping that Mary Jane recognizes in her own parents. And while she does question them about it, I was wishing for a little more confrontation and the possibility of change on these matters. But, I digress.

 Overall, I definitely recommend this book! It's perfect for a summer beach read!
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Mary Jane Dillard seems to be living the idyllic life as a child in 1975. She and her parents live in a nice neighborhood, but when the 14-year-old takes a summer job as nanny to Izzy, she’s introduced to entirely different family. Izzy, the five-year-old only seems to able to talk in ALL CAPS.  Her mother goes braless and her father is a Jew and a psychologist. Then a rock- star and his wife come to stay for addition therapy. I get May Jane’s confusion as she narrates the story, this family is not like the others in the suburban neighborhood. What’s amazing about Mary Jane is her lack of anger or rebellion. She enjoys church. Let’s just say she has common sense and her narration is spot on. Yeah, at times, the plot seems far-fetched, but then so do most sit-com tv shows. I can see this story being snapped up for a movie.
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This book was like a breath of fresh air, an interesting and entertaining premise with plenty of humor and heartwarming moments woven throughout.
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Mary Jane, by Jessica Anya Blau, is book highlighting a teenagers coming of age in the mid 1970s.  Mary Jane is 14 years old when she takes a nannying position at a prestigious doctors house for 5 year old Izzy Cone.  Dr. Cone is a psychiatrist and addiction specialist, who agrees to take on rock star Jimmy and his actress wife, Sheba for the summer for both addiction (for Jimmy) and some couples therapy.  This story details the time that Mary Jane spends at the house, and the "family" that is formed for the summer that she is there.

Mary Jane comes from a buttoned up, white collar house hold, where things are more "traditional".  Pot roast and meat loaf are staples in the household, and traditional man/woman roles are abided by.  Mary Jane's eyes are opened to the unconventional lifestyle the Cones (and Sheba/Jimmy) exemplify, and loves the tastes of freedom that she gets while she is taking care of Izzy (and really, taking care of everyone!)

This book is light and highly entertaining.  It shows an era of transition, between those who were of the older generation in the 70s, and those who were younger and wanting change, both in music, social/political climate and gender roles.  It was a great time of transition, where everyone was trying to find their place.  This book highlights this perfectly, without being too overdone.  I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and and wants to break up the sad WWII reads with something lighter and more warm hearted.  Five stars!!
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