I am very excited to share my review today of Nice Try, Jane Sinner because it has a lot of what I like to read. Jane, our main character, is not a perfect person and she owns that. There’s depth to this and her reasoning; finding those reasons out was entertaining and a bit shocking. Thanks to Rock Star Book Tours for including me in the blog tour for this new release and a copy of the book!
Published: 9 January 2018
Publisher: Clarion Books
Category: Young Adult/Contemporary
The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.
Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.
As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.
Rating: 4 Stars
Caution: suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, germaphobia/OCD
Jane’s cynical nature was entirely relatable from the onset. There are clues, as the book progresses, as to what she was like Before, Before here meaning “some big event as yet undisclosed that changed Jane’s life FOREVER”. Those tidbits hinted at something or someone that she was and now despises. You keep seeing her reflect on her past, things she’s said or done that were cringe worthy at best, utterly horrible at worst. I thought these moments were evident of her growth to this person she is now while wondering what kind of event could have happened in her life to give her this jolt. Once her story was revealed, my understanding of her increased and, while she still had some rough moments, the relatable feeling intensified. Her memories about the epiphany she had in church, the questioning, it just meant so much.
There were times throughout the book where Jane’s attitude was grating, such as when she moves into the House of Orange and mocks her neighbor for having an “unnatural” name, depicted when Jane spells it three different ways in her head (Chanel/Shawntel/Chaunt’Elle).
Despite the times when she was kind of intense and difficult to understand, there was a lot of insight from Jane regarding her past (being the church kid who follows the beliefs of her parents, resulting in telling her friend Bonnie that she’ll go to Hell for her sexuality) and how she’s found a different way of looking at things, growing past the close mindedness that she experienced growing up. It was hard, no doubt, and it’s evident when she interacts with her parents and people from the church, but there’s also the evidence that she cares for her family even as she wants to move away from their environment. Her younger sister, Carol, plays a big part in showing us how much Jane cared/still cares, through when they interact at Jane’s parent’s house and when Carol visits Jane’s college accommodations.
There were a lot of different kinds of scenes in Jane Sinner. There were funny moments, tricksy moments, emotionally full moments; scenes when I was laughing so hard I teared up and ones where my stomach felt like it dropped to the floor. Readers will find a bit of everything in this book and while some of it may be hard to read (see caution warning above), it all leads to a fairly astute observation from Jane at the end of her story.
And yes, I can be a motherfucking idiot sometimes, but today I was something else.
“I also used to love running around half-naked with crayons up my nose because I thought they looked like fangs. I take comfort in knowing people can change.”
“The family keeps acting as though going to community college is a big deal, as though I’m taking a step forward, not backward. As though this makes me an adult. If I’m an adult, what happened to my childhood?”
“TOM: You don’t know a good thing when you see it, do you?
JS: I do, actually. I’m staring at a bag of Twizzlers right now.”
Lianne lives in Vancouver, BC. A mere three years of working in the film industry has left her far more jaded, bitter, and misanthropic than she could have dreamed possible. Having worked on one too many made-for-TV movies featuring the mild romantic antics of generically attractive white people, she’s taken it upon herself to push back with some pretty substandard stories of her own.
Besides books, her three great passions in life are cats, craft beer, and camping. When she’s not working, Lianne likes to take off, eh in her ‘83 camper van. She maintains a steady hate/ love relationship with hiking, but is always up for exploring British Columbia- whatever it takes to find a nice spot to set up her hammock. Her hammock is her favorite place in the world.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of NICE TRY JANE SINNER, US Only.
I received a copy of this book as part of Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.