Length: 432 pages
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.
“And yes, I can be a motherfucking idiot sometimes, but today I was something else.”
Trigger warnings for mentions of suicide (attempt)
NICE TRY, JANE SINNER is not a book I’ve heard much about, but I was nonetheless very intrigued by the synopsis as it covered some topics that I rarely, if ever, see in young adult literature. This novel follows Jane Sinner as she starts community college and decides to be a contestant on House of Orange, a reality television show to compete with other teenagers.
My absolute favorite aspect of this novel was the writing – it reads like The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, which was undoubtedly one of my favorite series when I first delved into YA. If you like sarcastic and humorous (think April Ludgate funny) main characters, I think you’ll definitely connect with Jane Sinner. I found that Jane’s character definitely grew a lot from the beginning of the novel, and she has a personality that really makes you root for her.
I found this novel to reflect such a supportive and caring family that Jane had – Jane recently was expelled out of college, but she still has a relatively good relationship with her family. Jane’s experiences are something that we don’t really see much of in YA, but I like this fresh, new perspective on aspects that can be very life-changing for people. It was funny and original, yet also dealt with topics like suicide and therapy. My only reservation is that I felt like the middle of the novel dragged a bit, but the beginning and the ending wraps up the novel quite nicely.
Overall, NICE TRY, JANE SINNER is a wonderful debut by Lianne Oelke, and I’m very excited to continue looking into her future works. If you like reality television, relatable characters, and a funny, unforgettable read, be sure to check this one out!
Thank you to HMH for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Alice is an 18 year old college student who loves the oxford comma, television shows, and the company of dogs. She finds writing in the third person odd yet enjoyable. You can find her scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and forever organizing her shelves on Goodreads.