NICE TRY, JANE SINNER by Lianne Oelke
As soon as I saw NICE TRY, JANE SINNER, I knew I had to feature it. It’s a great selection for high schoolers and college students alike.
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.
In an article in USA today, you mentioned that a lot of college students read YA, and I love how NICE TRY, JANE SINNER contains content that both high schoolers and college students can appreciate. I work with college students who always think they don’t have time to read for pleasure. Along with recommending NICE TRY, JANE SINNER, I’m interested in letting them know that books like yours are ones they should make time for. What suggestions, if any, might you have for these students?
I know how tough it can be to read for pleasure in college, but finding time for the things you love makes such a difference- it’s what kept me sane. Generally, I turned to fantasy in my free time, because I didn’t see myself in contemporary YA. Thankfully, there are more college YA books out today for students to turn to! FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell is one of the most well-known. THE BIG F by Maggie Ann Martin is also a delight- it hits the sweet spot between high school and college. POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST by Meg Eden seems bizarre and nerdy and wonderfully retro. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the hilarious AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao (available Feb. 6, 2018), and FAT GIRL ON A PLANE by Kelly deVos (June 5, 2018) sounds incredible.
I’ve heard great things about all those books, especially FAT GIRL ON A PLANE. And, I love how Jane’s story deals with what happens when life throws its inevitable curve balls. What do you hope readers can gain from her story?
Jane goes through so much, from mental illness to expulsion from high school to losing her faith to disagreeing with her family over some pretty big issues to fame and televised humiliation. I’d like to think there’s something there for everyone, but for me, the most important aspect of Jane’s story is that past mistakes don’t have to define a person. Anyone can have a second (or third, or fourth) chance.
That’s definitely reassuring! What is one thing you’ve learned from failure, and in what ways, if any, did it change you?
I used to be one of those annoying kids in school who could write an essay the night before and still get an A. It turns out that writing a book is substantially harder than anything school threw at me. Publishing doesn’t reward the underprepared. Every author experiences failure. For me, the hard part was getting rejection after rejection from potential agents for two years. I’d like to think I’ve learned humility and patience from the whole publishing experience, and it’s absolutely made me a better, more deliberate writer. Now, the thought of turning in a project the day after I finish the first draft fuels my nightmares.
Ha! Still, it’s nice to know that persistence not only pays off, but it generates growth. What are some of your current projects?
I’m working on another YA novel- a multi-POV fantasy inspired by saga-age Iceland! Think blood feuds, volcanoes, witchcraft, and dark humour.