Nice Try, Jane Sinner - Lianne Oelke | Book Tour & Interview


Format: Physical
Publication: Clarion Books

How I got the copy: Raincoast Books
Rating: 5/5

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.

I read this book within two days, not because I wanted too but because I left on vacation without it (oops) but, regardless, the book is great and unique. It's smart, witty and genuinely funny so I wasn't complaining. 

"Oh, sorry, I can't do anything else right now... I have to finish this book today and write about how much I'm loving it. bye."  - ME

I also want to highlight the fact that Lianne Oelke is Canadian. I love promoting and reviewing Canadian literature and this one did not disappoint, which makes me very happy to add to my CanLit Reviews section.

Once I started reading the first thing I appreciated was the witty main character, Jane, not only is she witty, she's also a strong, independent character. Despite the fact Jane has a dark past she's moving forward and decides to create a new persona for herself. After the incident, Jane isn't interested in being known as Bonnie's friend anymore. She wants to be known for being herself.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is set in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I've never been to Alberta but I can appreciate the setting being elsewhere than in the states. However, I would have loved to get more description of the setting but, for the most part, the book is either set in the House of Orange or school so we don't get to read much about how Calgary looks but hey, it's a character-driven book (and quite amazing regardless).

Jane is expelled from her high school and it's decided her best option is to go to "community college" to earn her outstanding credits. I put community college in quotation because in Canada we don't have "community college" and state colleges. It's either college or university but I understand why the author would go this route (for all you American folk (I think?)). Instead throughout the book, it's mentioned as community college and university, so a mix of American and Canadian lingo.

This book is well-written, the author explains details that really paint a picture and creates well-developed characters and relationships. Lianne Oelke writes humour so well and natural. I really appreciated how genuinely funny it is. There's a part in the book where Jane is having a hard time and has a laughing fit over thinking about doing something ridiculous, which I could relate to (I'm not sure if that means I'm unstable or just as hilarious as Jane).

"My hand landed in the french toast. When I pulled it out, my fingers bleeding maple syrup and cinnamon, I saw that my hand had left a perfect impression in the bread. Like I gave the bread a high-five. I started laughing."

I promise it's funnier once you read it within the book or it's funny because it's relatable. Like those time when you think of something really funny or try to explain something really funny to someone else but you can't because you're laughing so hard? Yeah, it's like that.

I loved reading about these characters on a reality TV show. I love reality TV and even though it's fictional I found it as entertaining to read. It brought an insider and outside perspective of how it may be on a reality show, how entertaining it is but also how it's like to create a tv show. Really depicting how the success of entertainment is really all about the fans and following.

I really love Jane as a character. She may be my favourite character at the moment from all the books I've read recently. I loved how this 18-year-old had more on her mind than just her relationship status because it's a true depiction of a girl too. Not only boys think about having fun instead of a relationship (I was that teenage girl with more than a relationship on her mind). For most of us, our relationship status won't pay our bills or in this case our education and a free car.

Jane's family and best friend are religious but it's just enough to understand how religious they are without overpowering the story and it shows how Jane develops as a character. I think a lot of people can relate to going through developing a different perspective on the religion they grew up on.

Lastly, this is written in journal format but not just any journal format. It includes dialogue between herself and her imaginary therapist and between the characters at times. It ties up and expresses personality to the other characters.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is smart, witty and genuinely funny about growth and relationships. I'd be surprised if you'd pass on it but if you're not already convinced Becky Albertalli blurbed it hilarious too.



Q: Has your career in film impacted the way you write?
Definitely! I work in post production, as an assistant film editor. It’s really cool to see everyone else’s hard work– weeks or months of effort– come together right in front of you. I’ve learned a lot from watching editors work, and from cutting a few scenes myself. There’s definitely an art to it. You could have one line of dialogue with ten different takes to choose from. Or maybe the line is played off screen, or on someone else’s coverage. Maybe the line doesn’t further the story and should be cut altogether. The editor has to match performance with continuity with framing, all while making sure the story tracks. Most TV shows or movies have strict run times, so anything not essential to the story is cut. There’s a deliberate efficiency to that I admire. I’ve learned that the best shows start with strong dialogue and story, and that every scene needs stakes, conflict, and a ‘button’ to end on. Compared to writing, film editing is a lot more visual; by looking at a timeline, it’s much easier to see the whole story in context. I’m trying to visualize my WIP as a timeline, keeping transitions between scenes, efficient storytelling, and the big picture in mind.


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, even if you had to rush-read.

    1. I really enjoyed it so it really wasn't a bad thing! It was a good excuse to read all day.


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