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Mary Jane - a memorable coming-of-age story set in 1970s Baltimore.

It is 1975. Fourteen-year-old Mary Jane Dillard is a bit of an outsider. She comes from a strict home with a mother who prides herself on running a perfect household in an affluent Baltimore community with perfect meals planned each day. Her father is distant. The family belongs to a country club that has a restricted membership policy. Mary Jane, who loves to sing in her church, has led a relatively sheltered life. That summer, Mary Jane is hired as a nanny to 5-year-old Izzy Cone. The Cone home is unlike anything Mary Jane has ever seen before. The free-spirited Richard (a psychiatrist) and Bonnie Cone are warm and loving, very open in discussing all subject matters yet keep a household that is chaotic, messy and filled with a refrigerator filled with mostly spoiled food. Mary Jane’s upbringing makes her the perfect person to bring order and good food to the Cones. When Jimmy, a troubled rock star who is a patient of Richard’s and his wife Sheba, a famous actress, come to stay with the Cones, Mary Jane is enamored by the couple, enjoys the new exposure to popular rock music and their free-thinking spirit. A whole world opens up for Mary Jane, who has kept this new experience from her parents.

In Mary Jane, author Jessica Anya Blau has created a sweet, memorable coming-of-age story. I enjoyed Mary Jane’s journey in finding her own voice although I wish that some of the social issues touched upon were delved into a little further. I’d love to see a sequel.

Many thanks to Edelweiss, William Morrow / Custom House, and Jessica Anya Blau for the opportunity to read this enjoyable book in advance of its publication.

Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Contemporary Historical Fiction.

Publication Date: May 11, 2021.

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