I heard that Nice Try, Jane Sinner was funny, but I wasn’t expecting to fully enjoy it and laugh as hard as I did. From the very first page I caught myself laughing, and as the book went on, I thought it got better and better. If you need a book that’s going to make you have a laugh, think about things, and get fully immersed in a fantastic story with memorable characters, then Nice Try, Jane Sinner is the kind of book that you’ll want to lose yourself in.
“Ever have one of those days when all the shortcomings of your life come together to form one massive hole?”
Meet Jane Sinner – she’s seventeen, was expelled from high school before graduation, and at her parents’ insistence, she has decided to take some classes at the community college so that she can earn her diploma. However, she has made a decision – she will go back and get the credits necessary to graduate, but she has no interest in continuing to live with her parents. She hates living under their roof and trying to hide things from them – especially her growing confusion at what she believes about religion, which is difficult to keep a secret from her church going family. And after The Event (it is referred to as this for a good portion of the book), her parents are pushing religion on her more than usual, so Jane needs to get away, to start over. That’s when she discovers the student run reality show, House of Orange.
“Well, what else are you going to do with yourself, Jane?
For starters, I can revise my history. That’s what I’m doing here, isn’t it? Rewriting my story so it no longer revolves around the Event. So it no longer stars some washed-up nihilist too uncomfortable in her own skin to do anything worthwhile.
People already talk about me behind my back. Maybe it’s time to give them something new to talk about.”
So Jane signs up for the reality show, which is essentially like the show Big Brother – a few students live in the house, and antics ensue – competing in challenges, dealing with each other’s behaviors and quirks, and voting each other out until the last person still in the house wins the show – and the prize being offered, which is a car.
Jane wants to do something new with herself, to leave all the drama of high school behind and make something different from herself, so she signs up for House of Orange, lying about her age (she’s not quite eighteen yet), securing herself a place to stay (that isn’t with her parents), and she is able to compete for a prize. Meanwhile, she works part time at the grocery store and is able to take her classes. She promises herself she isn’t in the game to make friends or find herself a special someone, but as time goes on, she finds herself drawn to the company of Robbie, a contestant on the show with whom she feels she can be herself around.
However, when things take a turn for the worse and Robbie betrays her trust, Jane must find a way to extract revenge on him for luring her in with trust and then stabbing her in the back. While she is determined to get back at him, new secrets come to light, and Jane has a hard time figuring out exactly what she needs to do. Through all of this, Jane has to keep her grades up as well as deal with constant family obligations, including her younger sister, Carol, who misses her, and a best friend, Bonnie, who feels as though Jane has abandoned their friendship to focus on the show.
Nice Try, Jane Sinner has such a fun cast of well-rounded characters that I will remember long after reading the book. Jane, Jane’s sister Carol, Robbie, and even Marc, one of the contestants, are all interesting and their antics and conversations make this book laugh out loud funny. These are the kind of characters that can bring a book to life and make it stand out.
The book itself is told in the format of Jane’s journals, with conversations being recorded for us to read, and Jane’s innermost thoughts and feelings. She questions herself, makes plans, and details her emotions, allowing readers to get inside her head and fall in love with her wit, sarcasm, and overall interesting personality. This writing style stands out since it isn’t told in traditional novel format – I thought it was a fantastic touch.
The plot twists in this book take the novel to new heights, and I have to say that I didn’t see some of the things coming – they were surprises, and fun ones at that. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much while reading a book, and I was pleasantly surprised by how I just fell in love with this novel, reading huge chunks at a time because I had a hard time putting it down.
If you want a fun, light read that’s sure to make you laugh (or at least smile!), Nice Try, Jane Sinner is a fantastic read that you will want to read through in a single sitting!
Lianne Oelke holds a degree in philosophy and works in the film industry. She resides in Vancouver, and Nice Try, Jane Sinner is her first book. Visit her online at lianneoelke.com and on Twitter @lianneoelke.