Monday, January 8, 2018

High School Pick: Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner
by Lianne Oelke
Clarion Books
436 pages
ISBN: 9780544867857

Jane Sinner is a character that most readers will never forget. She is at a crossroads when she begins writing her diary and readers learn that Jane has been asked to leave high school because of an "event" she refers to but doesn't share the details until much later in the book. In order to find herself, free herself from her family and her parents' constant hovering, Jane enrolls in a local community college and takes a psychology course. She also sees a chance to escape her house and her younger sister Carol. Jane is accepted into a campus low budget reality show that another student film maker is filming and posting to YouTube. The grand prize is a used car and one perk of the show is contestants share a crumby house for low rent. Jane's bedroom is a small mattress separated by a sheet from others. There is no privacy and cameras roll 24/7.

Jane is excited to be "free" and writes her feelings and the events of the house and competition in her diary. It is here that Jane shines. She is self-deprecating, snarky, intelligent to the point of genius level, and over the top competitive. Jane wants to win and because of it, she is dangerous. She sizes up her competition and when she sees a way to win she takes it. Her antics at the paintball competition are comic genius and will have readers laughing out loud. She pretends to partner with others, but shoots them in the back and pretends that someone else shot them. And better yet, she is able to get away with it.

Some of the entries are imagined conversations with Jane's fake psychiatrist. Her answers to him are downright hysterical and his pseudo-psycho babble are brilliant. Jane has not attended her real therapy sessions and it is probably not helping her through her transition from high school to college and her problems that caused "the event." Fans of reality television will compare this novel to "Big Brother" and "The Real World."

The novel is tagged as "Christian" by Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but if readers are looking for an uplifting experience about God, Nice Try, Jane Sinner isn't that book.

Highly recommended for grade 9 and up. American readers will probably like the book's setting at a community college in Canada. Some mental health topics, profanity, sex, drugs, drinking.

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