I love rock-n-roll!
Put another tome on my bookshelf, baby
I have really enjoyed several books with music themes including Daisy Jones & The Six, The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, and The Songbook of Benny Lament. And now the novel Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau continues my love of this type of story.
It’s the 1970s in a very nice neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. So far, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane Dillard has led a very insulated life as the only child of a lawyer and perfect housewife mother. She sings in the church choir, enjoys listening to show tunes, attends an all-girl school, and helps her mother with housework. At dinner each night, Mr. Dillard thanks God for President Ford and for his obedient daughter. Then he proceeds to read the newspaper during the meal. Neither of her parents ever show any affection towards or pride in Mary Jane.
When she accepts a summer nanny job to care for five-year-old Izzy Cone, Mary Jane’s eyes are opened wide to ways of life she could never have imagined. Izzy’s parents are messy, loud, unconventional, and openly affectionate. Dr. Cone is a psychiatrist whose office is in a garage behind the house. And this summer he is treating a famous rock star for addiction. To keep it confidential the rock star and his even more famous movie star wife move into the Cone’s house for the summer. Thus Mary Jane is indirectly plunged into the knowledge of various types of addiction, open marriage, antisemitism, racism, and some really good music. And in turn, Mary Jane brings organization, home-cooked meals, and freshly ironed clothes into the disarray of the Cone’s house.
This is a wonderful coming-of-age story. By the end of the summer, Mary Jane learns to value herself and become an independent thinker. I would love it if there is a sequel.
5-Stars. This book was published on May 11, 2021. I listened to the audiobook which has the added bonus of the rock star’s latest number one hit being sung at the end.