An unexplainable force drew me to this book. And clearly that force knew what it was doing because Nice Try, Jane Sinner was a surprising delight. It’s a book I needed, even if I didn’t know I needed it until I was reading it.
A personal incident sends Jane’s life spiraling out of control. When Jane decides not to finish high school, the only acceptable course of action as dictated by her parents is to attend the nearby community college. She agrees to do it…as long as she may move out. What she doesn’t share is that she is moving into the home of the college’s low budget YouTube reality series. Jane is all in to win it.
As a somewhat fan of The Bachelor–I like it more for the spoilers and viewer commentary/recaps than anything else–I am very familiar with how reality television looks on the screen, and how it can be off screen. So, from that point of view, I was quite interested in the TV dynamics of this book. The psychology of reality TV is weirdly fascinating to me, so for that bit alone I enjoyed the book.
But that piece of this story is not why I gave it five stars on Goodreads. Nice Try, Jane Sinner is a commentary on depression and suicide and religion. For the former two, the book is about coping and dealing with the aftermath. It’s captivating and deeply emotional how the topics are addressed. For the latter, it’s something I take issue with personally.
As a Christian myself, I was taken in by the religious commentary in this book. The church-and then, in the end, Christianity itself-is something that deeply failed Jane throughout her life. It’s because of the failings of religion that Jane spirals into depression and encounters the incident that leads to her community college, reality TV track. Though I am at ease with my religious beliefs, my faith in the church becomes decidedly more rocky as I get older. To read such a harsh commentary on how the church often behaves was refreshing. If most Christians were half as open-minded as they think they are, this book could be valuable in enlightening people to how their so-called good intentions are actually received by the masses. But, I digress. I didn’t set out to make this blog post about religion, but it was one of the most captivating parts of the book for me. I couldn’t leave this out. I don’t know what the author wanted me to take away from this book, but this is the direction my mind went.
The societal commentary aside, Nice Try, Jane Sinner has a fascinating, twisty story and unique, identifiable characters. The book has a different writing style that makes it all the more wonderful to read. It’s also brilliantly funny, in a sarcastic, cynical way that appealed to my soul.
If there is any book thus far of 2018 that deserves more attention, it’s this one.