Nice Try, Jane Sinner

432p. HMH. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544867857.
Gr 7 Up—After dropping out of high school in her senior year during her lowest emotional point, Jane Sinner is forced by her religious parents to enroll in community college to finish her credits. Armed with an acerbic wit and a desire to avoid living at home, Jane fudges a few details to compete in a Big Brother—style reality show at her community college. Along the way, she stirs up trouble for the camera, tries to figure out whom she can trust, and finds her true talents. This work is witty with a fresh narrative voice. It is rare to find a YA book that discusses faith and religion, but Oelke handles Jane's religious questioning in an authentic way. The protagonist is well developed; readers will enjoy rooting for her on House of Orange and in life. The narrative is mainly told through journal entries and script-style dialogue, and is sharp for a majority of the novel. However, Oelke's overreliance on these techniques at the expense of brevity makes the book long and repetitive by the end.
VERDICT Purchase for teen libraries where realistic fiction is in high demand.

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