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.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Disclaimer:I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
While many people are fond of us Canadians, I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read that are set in Canada and written by a Canadian author. There’s no point in denying the fact that we live in an American centric society which explains why the majority of contemporary books we read are set in the United States. When I found out that Nice Try, Jane Sinner was not only written by a Canadian author but also set in Canada I was over the moon. Add to a mix a blurb written by the one and only Becky Albertalli and a really interesting premise I knew that I would be in a for a real treat.
While this book deals with some pretty serious topics like mental illness and religion it’s still a really funny and quirky read that I guarantee will have you laughing out loud. This book has such an interesting premise and it isnt quite like anything I’ve ever read.I don’t know how Lianne Oelke came up with this premise because a reality tv show similiar to Big Brother starring community college kids who are fighting to win an used car is such a unique plot and not something that I’d ever think of writing about. I loved seeing the reality show, House of Orange, play out and read about all the weird challenges they had to go through. I also really enjoyed the interractions between the contestants and found them to be really interesting. I’m still not sure how I feel about the sort of love interest Robby but I did like his character though some of his actions were definitely questionable.
I really liked the way the author discussed mental illness and portrayed Jane’s depression. This is not a book about depression but merely features a character who has it and the book does show how this has affected her. I really liked how we got a nice balance of topics, that while we did some insight into Jane’s mental illness, there were also other plot points. It was nice to have a book with a character that has a mental illness but doesn’t merely focus on that. While books with a plot that revolves around the character’s mental illness are great, I really appreciat the approach Nice Try,Jane Sinner took and I hope to find other books like this in the future.
One small critique that I have is that I found that the book could have focused a little more on characters such as Jane’s best friend ,Bonnie, and her sister, Carol. I really liked what we saw of Bonnie and thought it was interesting how Jane’s upbringing made her react negatively when Bonnie came out as bisexual but Jane eventually realized that that was wrong. I love character’s who are inherently flawed but gradually unlearn their prejudices. I would’ve liked to see more of Bonnie’s relationship with Jane. Carol was also an interesting character and just a little more page time with Jane would’ve been a nice addition.
Q: How has being Canadian affected your writing and the general publishing process?
A: Long before I knew I’d be published, I knew I wanted the story I was telling to be set in Calgary (where I grew up). I’m proud to be Canadian, and I think we have something unique to offer YA literature. Now, more than ever, teens from all over the world need stories about diversity, tolerance, freedom, and hope. I was asked on two separate occasions if I’d consider changing the setting to the States, but I held my ground. Growing up, most of the contemporary YA I read was set in America. While I was still able to relate to the characters, I strongly believe that Canadians deserve to see themselves and all their toques and loonies and cities shown on the page. I’m happy to be living where I am now (Vancouver, BC), although at times it can feel like I’m removed from publishing life. Today, in fact, is my first day in New York City, and later this week I’ll meet my agent for the first time! I’m happy to bring a little bit of Canada to the publishing world, and as I explore New York, I’ll be wearing my biggest, reddest, maple-leafiest toque.