Balancing Act: Seeing Monica Lewinsky In A New Light, Thanks To Novel Inspired By Her Saga

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Heidi Stevens takes a look at Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel, “Young Jane Young”. Inspired by the Monica Lewinsky saga and its aftermath, the book tells the story of Aviva Grossman, a congressional intern from South Florida who has an affair with her married boss, U.S. Rep. Aaron Levin.

Chicago Tribune

I’ve thought a lot about Monica Lewinsky.

How her affair with Bill Clinton affected the course of subsequent elections.

How she was treated.

How I might have processed the scandal if it happened when I was a 42-year-old mother who sees shades of gray, rather than a self-righteous 23-year-old who sees mostly black and white.

How’s she’s doing, I mean really doing, now.

Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel, “Young Jane Young” (Algonquin), has me thinking about her from five new angles.

Inspired by the Lewinsky saga and its aftermath, the book tells the story of Aviva Grossman, a congressional intern from South Florida who has an affair with her married boss, U.S. Rep. Aaron Levin.

“The details of the affair, which were as tawdry and cliched and human as you would expect, were on every local news channel and newspaper for months,” Zevin writes. “One station even had a recurring segment called Avivawatch, as if she were a hurricane or an orca that had mysteriously beached itself.”

Characters reference Lewinsky, as in this conversation between Aviva’s mother and her dinner date, who doesn’t realize he’s out with Aviva’s mother: “Well, Rach, she was like Monica Lewinsky. The girl knew he was married and she seduced him. I guess she was drawn to the power or the limelight. Or maybe she was insecure. … It’s a real shame. Levin’s been a solid congressman. He might have been the first Jewish president if not for that farkakte girl.”

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