Always Jane

S. & S. Apr. 2022. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534482326.
Gr 9 Up–Complex relationships are at the heart of this summer romance featuring love triangles and music festivals in an idyllic lakeside setting. Jane has grown up in a family of domestic workers employed by a mega-rich music producer. Two summers ago, while at the producer’s lake house, Jane was in an accident that required months of recovery and caused her to experience aphasia. Now, with plans for college and the future up in the air, she finds herself working at the lake where her accident occurred. When Jane connects with Fen Sarafian, whose family runs the town’s famous music festival, her summer is turned upside down as she begins to question everything from her future plans to the true identity of her father to her feelings for her current boyfriend, who happens to be Fen’s brother. As Jane learns more about what really happened the night of her accident, as well as more about Fen, who is battling some demons of his own, she must decide which brother truly belongs in her future. While romance is at the heart of this story, family relationships, particularly those between Jane and her father and Fen and his parents, are important focal points as well. Bennett writes characters with morally gray zones in a way that does not make them entirely unlikable, and organically weaves in details about socioeconomic disparities and substance abuse. Jane is presumed white; Fen’s family is Armenian.
VERDICT Hand this to fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Kasie West’s romances.

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