Mary Jane: A Novel (Hardcover)
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.
“Funny, sad, sharp, charming, surprising, big-hearted and true both to its characters and its time.” — Nick Hornby
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.
About the Author
Jessica Anya Blau was born in Boston and raised in Southern California. Her novels have been featured on The Today Show, CNN and NPR, and in Cosmo, Vanity Fair, Bust, Time Out, Oprah Summer Reads and other national publications. Jessica's short stories and essays have been published in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies. Jessica co-wrote the script for Love on the Run starring Frances Fisher and Steve Howey. She sometimes works as a ghost writer and has taught writing at Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College and The Fashion Institute of Technology. Jessica lives in New York.
"I LOVED Jessica Anya Blau’s novel. Mary Jane is about an oppressed teenager being given a jolt of life and joy by an eccentric found family of therapists, a child, a rock star and a movie star in the 1970s....If you have ever sung along to a hit on the radio, in any decade, then you will devour Mary Jane at 45rpm."
— Nick Hornby
"I dare you to find a more winning novel than Jessica Anya Blau’s Mary Jane. Filled with humor and sharpness and so much light, this book introduces an amazing cast of characters, all so unique and finely observed, held together by the clarity of Mary Jane’s voice. It evokes those rare moments when your world is on the precipice of change, almost a dream, and how thrilling it is to push your way toward something new."
— Kevin Wilson
"MARY JANE is that rare thing: An utterly charming, absurdly delightful novel that also makes you think deeply about the world around you. Jessica Anya Blau's clear-eyed wit reminded me of Curtis Sittenfeld and Laurie Colwin, and, of course, Jane Austen."
— Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
“The experience of reading Jessica Anya Blau’s Mary Jane is a lot like eating quality candy: super enjoyable, crazy good. I am sad to have finished it.”
— Marcy Dermansky
"This novel is a week at the beach with rock stars, it’s a three-part harmony at a kitchen table, it’s finding a family where you fit in. Jessica Anya Blau is a smart, generous, sensitive storyteller, and Mary Jane is a loving, sexy, funny, and beautiful book."
— Gabriel Brownstein, author of The Open Heart Club
“Jessica Anya Blau is one of the funniest writers--EVER. No one captures the oddities, joys --and yes--the pain--of modern life with such frankness, humor and sly-witted style.”
— ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
"This may be the best book about an adolescent since The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Fourteen-year-old Mary Jane, straight as a ruler, gets a summer job as a nanny to sweet Izzie, whose psychiatrist father is providing live-in therapy to a recovering rock star. Mary Jane and her cast of characters will carry you to bliss on every page. It’s Baltimore in the 70s and Jessica Anya Blau gets everything right. Buy it for someone you love."
— Michael Elias, author of You Can Go Home Now
“It’s hard to recall a debut as warm, charming and comically satisfying as The Summer of Naked Swim Parties . . . Blau conveys Jamie’s world with compelling insight and wit . . . [Blau’s] sharp observation and affectionate humor [give] surprising depth to this shimmering novel.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Recovered Judy Blume addicts, brace yourselves for a relapse: Jessica Anya Blau’s debut novel, set in Santa Barbara, California, during the summer of ’76, is a poignant, gleeful ode to the turbulence of growing up . . . [A] dead-on portrayal of the simple yet shocking revelations of youth.”
— Time Out New York on The Summer of Naked Swim Parties