Always Jane by Jenn Bennett ~ 384 pages ~ published March 29, 2022 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Love—and Fen Sarafian—do not care about your summer plans.
Eighteen-year-old chauffeur’s daughter Jane Marlow grew up among the domestic staff of a wealthy LA rock producer, within reach of bands she idolizes, but never a VIP. Every summer, Jane and her father head to the Sierras to work at the producer’s luxury lodge at Lake Condor—a resort town and the site of a major musical festival.
The legendary family who runs the festival are the Sarafians, and Jane’s had a longtime crush on their oldest son, Eddie—doltish but sweet. So when a long-distance romance finally sparks between them, she doesn’t hesitate to cross class lines.
But Jane’s feelings about Eddie are thrown into question after she returns to the lake and reconnects with his alluringly intense brother, the dark horse of her placid summer plans. A fellow lover of music—and hater of the game—Fen Sarafian has been ousted from the family and is slumming it at a vinyl record shop. He burns for Jane like a house on fire and will do anything to sabotage his older brother, even if it means taking a wrecking ball to a multi-million-dollar music festival. Or Jane’s heart.
What I Thought:
*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Simon Schuster for this ARC!*
This was a sweet story about loss, love, and finding out who you truly are. I enjoyed getting to know these characters and going on this journey with them. Jenn Bennett’s books tend to have characters with interests and occupations that are outside of the norm for YA novels, and this book was no exception.
Jane is the daughter of a chauffeur for a big-wig music producer (very reminiscent of the movie Sabrina), and is now working as the personal assistant for the producer’s daughter. She suffers from a head injury that she sustained two summer’s before when she fell off of a dam and nearly drowned, which caused her to have to re-learn how to speak. It was endearing to see her grow throughout the course of the novel and attempt to overcome her disability. She struggles with feelings of self-worth, as well as guilt.
Fen works at his aunt’s vinyl shop and lives in her barn after being kicked out of is family home by his overbearing father. He is constantly at odds with his older brother Eddie, who just so happens to be dating Jane, and seems to be able to ‘do no wrong’. Fen struggles with anger issues, as well as feeling things a bit too deeply, which gets him into trouble.
Seeing these two characters grow close and begin to lean upon each other was sweet, but there was also something about their story that felt somewhat disconnected to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I just never felt like I could truly root for them throughout the book. It made it a little bit hard for me to really feel engrossed in the story, which is why I had to rate it lower than I would have otherwise.
Some other things that I did enjoy about the book were the setting, which I thought was beautiful and vivid. I could completely picture this lakeside town and the giant music festival that they throw there. I also liked how involved the parents were in the kids lives, whether for better or worse. That aspect of the story felt very realistic and raw.
All in all, this was a cute story. Just because it wasn’t completely for me doesn’t mean that it won’t be for you! Also, there is a cute dog, and that is always something to be excited about 😘
I gave Always Jane 3.5 Stars!
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Have you read any of Jenn Bennett’s other books? Which ones are your favorites? Let’s chat in the comments!
Love and happy reading,