Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner
Author: Lianne Oelke
Release Date: January 9, 2018
“There is no divine plan, no destiny, no life after death, and no compensation for what you lose. There is only here and now. There is only what you’ve done and what you are going to do. And if you can own up to every moment and take responsibility for your life and shape it into something beautiful and kind and generous – if you can do that, you’ve discovered what it means to be strong.”
I wanted to like this more than I actually did. It felt really average to me – nothing too standout positively or negatively. We follow Jane Sinner as she starts a high school completion program at the local community college, at her parent’s urging. Her one condition is that she gets to move out. Jane signs up to be a part of a student run reality show to save some cash, and hopefully win some prizes. and plenty of drama and scheming ensues.
Things I Liked
I really liked the journal style format. It made it super easy to read and the pacing was really quick! There was a few times when it was hard to tell the difference between dialogue and text messages, but it wasn’t that much of a problem.
I really loved how Jane’s depression and recovery was represented in the story. Jane really starts to question her beliefs and that changes her entire outlook on life. She starts to feel alone, unsure, and most of all indifferent. She just desperately wants to feel something – pain, anger, resentment, something. I like that we get to see Jane’s own process of recovery and figuring out what was best for her, despite what her parents or school may have wanted, she was prioritizing herself.
This was such a tiny part of the story, but I really loved it! Jane’s creative writing assignment was so lovely and perfectly captured the emotional tone of the story at that point!
Things I Didn’t Like
Jane’s humor was very nihilistic and deprecating. It was dry and blunt and funny. Unfortunately, I didn’t really connect with Jane beyond enjoying her humor. I just didn’t find her to be all that likeable or engaging. And as a character driven reader, it made the reading experience for the book a little underwhelming.
For about the first half of the story I was just pretty bored. It took me a while to connect with the other contestants and to care about the competition. I also found the story to feel really long. Like I said above, the journal style format made it really easy to read, but it felt like there were large chunks of text where nothing happened- no development, no action, no growth. I wouldn’t have minded the lulls, if they served a purpose, but it honestly just dragged a bit for me.
Nice Try, Jane Sinner was a good books, but it probably won’t leave an impression on me. It took me a long time to get into the story, and to connect to the characters. But, I did love the journal format and seeing Jane’s personal journey and growth. Nice Try, Jane Sinner is a fun story that cleverly explores depression, recovery, and healing.
Trigger warnings for depression and suicide
I received a copy of the book from Clarion Books/HMH Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.