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Mary Jane : a novel
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2021
Brief Descriptions

"Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones and the Six in this funny, wise and tender novel about a fourteen-year-old girl's coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for - who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

Taking a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor, straight-laced Mary Jane is introduced to a world of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, which helps her figure out what she really wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be. 150,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

"The best book of the summer." -- InStyle

"I LOVED this novel....If you have ever sung along to a hit on the radio, in any decade, then you will devour Mary Jane at 45 rpm." —Nick Hornby

Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this "delightful" (New York Times Book Review) novel about a fourteen-year-old girl’s coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for—who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.

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. 

- (HARPERCOLL)

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Reviews Via Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Blau (The Summer of Naked Swim Parties) returns with a sweet if simplistic coming-of-age story about a teenage girl's influential encounter with a rock star couple in 1975 Baltimore. Mary Jane Dillard, 14, the responsible daughter of country-clubbing, conservative Betsy and Gerald, takes a job as a nanny for her parents' free-spirited acquaintances, the Cones: Richard, a psychiatrist; and Bonnie, his bohemian wife. The Cones need Mary Jane's help with their five-year-old daughter while hosting celebrity couple Jimmy and Sheba as part of Jimmy's group therapy treatment for his alcohol and drug addiction. Jimmy sings in a popular band, and Sheba stars in a variety show. Soon Mary Jane uses her choir voice to sing in harmony with Jimmy and Sheba, and as she witnesses both couples' emotional outbursts and unadulterated shows of affection, she gains a deeper understanding of the potential of human relationships and of her own musical talent. Mary Jane's narration can be cloying ("I wondered if the addict would look like the addicts I'd seen downtown from the window of the car," Mary Jane thinks, anticipating Jimmy's arrival), and the narrative arc, though shaped by Mary Jane's eye-opening exposure to the realities of adulthood, is not particularly sophisticated. Still, this might please readers looking to indulge their '70s nostalgia. (May)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Blau (The Summer of Naked Swim Parties) returns with a sweet if simplistic coming-of-age story about a teenage girl's influential encounter with a rock star couple in 1975 Baltimore. Mary Jane Dillard, 14, the responsible daughter of country-clubbing, conservative Betsy and Gerald, takes a job as a nanny for her parents' free-spirited acquaintances, the Cones: Richard, a psychiatrist; and Bonnie, his bohemian wife. The Cones need Mary Jane's help with their five-year-old daughter while hosting celebrity couple Jimmy and Sheba as part of Jimmy's group therapy treatment for his alcohol and drug addiction. Jimmy sings in a popular band, and Sheba stars in a variety show. Soon Mary Jane uses her choir voice to sing in harmony with Jimmy and Sheba, and as she witnesses both couples' emotional outbursts and unadulterated shows of affection, she gains a deeper understanding of the potential of human relationships and of her own musical talent. Mary Jane's narration can be cloying ("I wondered if the addict would look like the addicts I'd seen downtown from the window of the car," Mary Jane thinks, anticipating Jimmy's arrival), and the narrative arc, though shaped by Mary Jane's eye-opening exposure to the realities of adulthood, is not particularly sophisticated. Still, this might please readers looking to indulge their '70s nostalgia. (May)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

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