My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ARC Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner, by Lianne Oelke

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.  Also, I am part of the Amazon Affiliate program.  If you buy the book using the links on this page, I will get a small fee.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.

Even though I am not one to watch a lot of TV, I would have to be hiding in a cave not to know how popular reality television is right now.  One of the shows that started the current trend is Big Brother, which has nearly fifty versions of the program running world-wide.   But why do people want to be on such a show?  Are they seeking fame or fortune?  Are they just looking for attention?  The main character in Nice Try, Jane Sinner, by Lianne Oelke, seems to be looking for a fresh start, and some independence, after a disastrous incident at her high school.  

What I Liked:
Jane is smart, funny, and also suffers from depression.  She feels oppressed by her ultra religious family, and so seeks to be independent.  I can really identify with her predicament.   I liked that she had this conflict with her parents, yet still loved and respected them.

I rooted for Jane throughout the story.  As she stumbles upon what she thinks is a great idea (trading privacy for cheap rent in the House of Orange), you just know, this will lead to disaster.  And it does.  Jane, fragile from a mental health event, puts herself in a place where her emotional stability will be constantly challenged.

The other characters each have a desperate desire they are yearning for as they participate in the contest.  The student producer of the show is looking for redemption after being kicked out of a prestigious college.  Other contestants are looking for notoriety, or are participating as a way to propel them onto a national stage.  These characters were fun to follow, and I enjoyed the strategies they employed to gain advantages in the contest.  It also illustrates how difficult it is to trust people, and their motives.

Many people discount the community college experience.  They talk about it like it isn't really legitimate higher education.  As someone who started out at a community college, I couldn't disagree more.  I loved how the book showed that it's all about what the individual student puts into it that determines what they get out of it.  While some students don't take these classes seriously, others jump in wholeheartedly.  And not just with the classes.  As Jane progresses through the school year, she is slowly drawn into extracurricular activities.  If one tries, a person can really find their tribe in college.

I also loved the Canadian setting. While there are many similarities to America, Canada has it's own character and charm.  The wildness of the open wilderness just outside of town emphasizes how close we are to our essential selves, if we will only seek it out.

The competition itself was very entertaining.  As with actual Big Brother types of shows, there were alliances to be made, and challenges to compete in.  Many of them were very creative, such as when the contestants had to get in a van and see who could remain there the longest.  The students had to figure out how they would handle things such as bodily needs without leaving the van.  It was gross, but also hilarious!

What I Didn't Like: 
I wish the author would have been a little more serious about Jane's mental health issue.  With all the stress of the game, I was surprised that Jane wasn't more on the edge, especially since she cut herself off from her support system.  I would have liked for Jane to realize that it is okay to rely on others such as a counselor, friends, or family.  Instead she rejects these and tries to go it alone.  I think she does, in the end, finally accept some of her problems.  But I think in real life she would  have been at risk for serious harm given that she rejected any help.



Release Date:  January 9th, 2018

Genre:  YA Contemporary

Publisher:  Clarion Books

Page Length:  416 pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  PDF

Recommendation:  An enjoyable, if at times too light, read.  Canada , redemption, and the community college system are the highlights of this book.
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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
clean sweep 2017

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