– Jenn Bennett –
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published 29 March 2022
It took me about 40 seconds to figure who was our narrator and which brother was which when I started reading Always Jane. And then it took me about .02 seconds to fall in love with Fen. Completely and for always. But, by the end of the book it was the author Jenn Bennett to whom I felt the need to confess my undying love, for writing such a beautiful and powerful novel.
In true Jenn Bennett fashion, Always Jane is a compelling and addictive contemporary YA novel, a find-your-voice-and-own-way coming of age novel, with steamy romance, and delightful and complicated family dynamics.
Two years ago, Jane sustained a head injury when she fell off the dam wall at the lake. Fen rescued her and saved her life, but Jane doesn’t remember that. Instead, she believes it was Fen’s brother who was the rescuer and Jane is currently dating Eddie, lured by his charming ways and good looks. When Jane returns to the lake for the summer, she comes face to face with Fen. He’s shocked she doesn’t know the truth about that night two years ago and they trade sharp words. Jane is tempted by the truth Fen can reveal about the secrets Eddie has been keeping from her. Jane offers the solution to the burden Fen has carried since that night. As they spend more time together and get closer, they know they are perilously close to crossing a dangerous line.
Jane and her father work for and live in with a famous musician and music producer. It means constant access to a luxurious life but never really being part of it. Jane is working as a PA and dog sitter for Mad Dog’s daughter throughout the summer. Fen, son of an equally famous and rich music businessman, has been forced to leave home over his feud with his brother and father. Both are unsure about their future and haunted by their pasts.
The chemistry between Fen and Jane is just divine. Fen has been in love with Jane from afar for years and this was only further complicated when he saved her life. Hearing she is dating his brother (who he hates) is maddening. Jane is amazed that someone like Eddie would want to date her, but after only a few interactions with Fen, she starts to realise that Eddie has been lying to her, a lot, and their relationship is not as it seems. Fen and Jane don’t set out to have a romantic relationship, it’s the furthest thing from Jane’s mind, but they share an undeniable connection. So, yes, this book does include activity that one might call cheating, but I was one hundred percent behind it and Jane tries very hard to be upfront with Eddie. There is lots of drama and complications and I was exhausted by the end of the book. But it is all so worth it.
This book is not just about the romance. It’s also about Fen and Jane each finding their place in the world and following their dreams. I loved that the author gives them the time to do this, to chase their dreams, both inside snd outside of their relationship.
Jane’s brain injury is an important part of the story. Jane has worked hard in speech therapy to recover the ability to talk. She still struggles with some words and sometimes can’t find the right word. Her recovery also made graduating from high school hard and she’s not sure what she wants to do with her future.
I also really liked Jane’s relationship with her dad. There are some questions about her linage which could have been a whole thing in the book but Jane never goes there and I think that was really sweet.
Just try to put this book down once you’ve started reading, I dare you. Beautiful.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Romance, family, parents, fathers, aphasia, brain injury, music, college.
Reading age guide: Ages 14/15 and up.
Representation: Heterosexual main relationships, LGBT side relationship. White main character, main character and side characters possible American Lebanese or Armenian (uncertain). Main character with brain injury and aphasia.
Advisory: References to adultery and cheating. Sexual references, references to sexual relationships, sex scenes with some details. F*** (53), sh** (56), pi** (12), as***** (5), di** (5). Frequent and detailed references to drug and alcohol use, cocaine.
Published: 29 March 2022 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 384 pages.