“There is no divine plan, no destiny, no life after death, and no compensation for what you lose. There is only here and now. There is only what you’ve done and what you are going to do. And if you can own up to every moment and take responsibility for your life and shape it into something beautiful and kind and generous - if you can do that, you’ve discovered what it means to be strong.”
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.
This is Lianne Oelke’s first novel and I really liked it. It was very different and original. I thought it was cute and exciting and it also touched in on some deep and important topics which can be hard to successfully fit into one novel.
The main character Jane has left her high school and now has to complete her senior year at her local community college and decides to move out of her parents' place. Jane has been raised in a devout Christian household, and recently Jane has been having doubts about God and struggling. She signs up for an advertised small campus reality show that’s being produced by a student for a project. I really liked that it was set in a college setting instead of a high school setting. I thought it made the story already different compared to a lot of other YA novels and brought more diversity of ages and people to the story.
The Reality Show aspect, I admit, I had expected to be kind of cheesy. But it actually ended being exciting and interesting and bringing a lot to the story. It was called House of Orange, it had a bunch of different little challenges and had some really cute and funny moments that lightened up the story. I wish there had been a few more challenges, though.
This story touched on some very sensitive topics along with having many light-hearted scenes as well. As I mentioned before it talks a lot about how Jane lost faith in God, but it also discussed a lot of other mental health subjects like suicide, depression, etc. So I think that’s something to be aware of going into reading the book.
The character Jane was witty and completely hilarious. The story was full of dry humor. I quickly and easily connected with her as a character. I thought she was very well portrayed and that she was an interesting character. Her love for psychology was a super interesting part of the book. I wish there had been more of it! The characters other than Jane were hard for me to connect at first, but after a little bit they developed more. I wish the beginning had been a little less slow and that I could of got into it a little more quickly, but that doesn’t last too long and was far from unbearable.
By far my favorite part of this book was its format. It was written as Jane’s journal and though it can be a tough way to write, it was executed very well. I think that it made many characters, especially Jane, a lot more accessible.
Even though this book started a little slow and had a few chunks of text with little development or excitement, they were mild and overall didn’t effect the story too much. I think this book was excellent and a great read. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a YA novel that deals with more mature topics or a novel that feels a bit more polished and structured than other contemporaries out there.
Grace C., EO Blogger