Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

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Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
Genre: YA Contemporary, Coming of Age, Realistic Fiction
Publication: January 9, 2018 from Clarion Books
Series: None. Standalone.
Length: 432 pages
Format: ARC from publisher
Rating: ★★★★★

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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.


Huge thanks to my friends from HMH Teen for sending me a review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.


Trigger Warning: This book has several mentions of suicide attempt.

I’ve been very excited to read Nice Try, Jane Sinner way back in 2017 when I found out that Becky Albertalli blurbed it, I’m not gonna lie. I initially received word about this debut from Becky, when she first tweeted about it, and after researching more on what’s it about, I was intrigued and very much interested to read and promote it here on BFR. And HMH Teen was more than willing to give me a hand. (They rock, honestly.) And so today, I’m extremely elated to share with you all my thoughts on Lianne Oelke’s debut novel.

One of the many things that I loved about Nice Try, Jane Sinner is it’s plot, the idea that a heroine can easily redeem herself if only she truly wanted it. I adored the story, mainly because I was really interested with it from the start. The idea of a YA Big Brother really appealed to me, and I really enjoyed the scenes that happened in House of Orange, even if it was mostly filled with hilarious and excessive drama. *laughs* I was also interested with the idea of balancing that with school, and in the end, I found myself completely invested, rooting for the winner whoever he or she might be.

As for the writing, I don’t usually go for stories that are told via journal entries (except for Illuminae JUST because.) but I really enjoyed Lianne Oelke’s writing style in Nice Try, Jane Sinner. Jane’s tone (or voice) became all the more hilarious with the help of the author’s writing technique, and there were scenes that I really laughed out loud at. Yes, there were some parts that, to me, felt a little unnecessary, but when I finished reading the book, I craved for me. I had an enjoyable time being in Jane’s headspace, and she ended up being a character whose story is worth telling.

And lastly, I really appreciated the representation of mental illnesses such as clinical depression and suicide in this book. I was impressed by how subtle and yet very relevant it was in telling Jane Sinner’s story, and I found it to be very enlightening.  Jane’s depression and suicidal tendencies might have been a big part of what made Jane do the things she did, but I’m so very impressed by the fact that she didn’t let her mistakes define her or her future, and the fact that she was able to redeem herself with help from her newfound friends in Elbow River Community College made me all the more satisfied. And the fact that most (actually, all) House of Orange contestants were all so diverse made me give this book some extra points. *winks*

“Jane Sinner’s story is mostly focused on a life of being overshadowed by a huge mistake. And if there’s one thing that I absolutely adore about this debut, it’s definitely Jane herself. Half of the time, I didn’t really agree with most of her decisions. She might not be your typical heroine, with all her antics and her being “extra”, but I can assure you, one way or another, you will come to love her and her story the same way I did, if not more. Nice Try, Jane Sinner is an emotional novel that’s as heartfelt, as it is undeniably entertaining. It will make you laugh, it will squeeze your heart, and it will most definitely move you when you least expect it.”


Have YOU read Nice Try, Jane Sinner yet? If not, be sure to check out once it’s out on January 9th! And once you do, let me know what you think of it down below in the comments section!

And if you’re looking to find more reviews from other lovely bloggers, check out the following pages:


Lianne lives in Vancouver, BC. A mere three years of working in the film industry has left her far more jaded, bitter, and misanthropic than she could have dreamed possible. Having worked on one too many made-for-TV movies featuring the mild romantic antics of generically attractive white people, she’s taken it upon herself to push back with some pretty substandard stories of her own.

Besides books, her three great passions in life are cats, craft beer, and camping. When she’s not working, Lianne likes to take off, eh in her ‘83 camper van. She maintains a steady hate/ love relationship with hiking, but is always up for exploring British Columbia- whatever it takes to find a nice spot to set up her hammock. Her hammock is her favourite place in the world.

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Until the next one!

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3 thoughts on “Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

  1. That was a great review, JM, thank you so much for sharing! (Although, if I may point it out, there is a little mix-up at the end of your post: in your questions, you are asking whether we have read Batman or not, and not Nice Try, Jane Sinner 🙂 )
    I added this book on my TBR very recently after hearing about it from fellow bloggers. I was intrigued by the story and the fact that it’s written in journal entries as well, gives a personal dimension to a book and a character, I think 🙂
    Once again, lovely post 🙂


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