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 was so not what I was expecting, but in the best way! It's hilarious and ridiculous and full of awesomeness ... let's get into my thoughts:
Jane was an awesome character; and it was so much fun living in her head for 400 pages. She's snarky and sarcastic and doesn't take anyone or anything too seriously. She's also fiercely independent, but at the same time she cares for her family dearly.
I thought her recovery from mental illness was bravely written and wasn't sugar-coated. Sometimes depression doesn't always have a traumatic origin, and I loved that this book showed this, but wasn't ever sad or difficult to read.
I wasn't so attached to a lot of the other characters in the novel, but I really liked the fact that this had a college setting. You don't see many YA books set outwith high schools, and I totally related a lot more to Jane, with her being out of school, like myself. The actual setting of House of Orange was a lot of fun to read about, and I enjoyed a lot of the interactions between the housemates. I especially loved reading about Jane's pranks on those she was less fond of in the house!
I'm not normally a big fan of the journal narration style, but I actually really enjoyed it in this one, and I really think it worked. It drew me closer to Jane and her way of thinking. For me, the faith exploration aspect of the story could have been explored more, but what I did read of it was really well done. I wish we could have gotten to see a little more of this though.
The plot was a little slow at times, but I don't feel that this was a drawback to the story. It's much more of an introspective, character-driven story, as opposed to a fast-paced plot-driven book. I also found that every time the book looked like it might plunge into a cliche-plot hole, the unexpected happened which was so refreshing.
Final thoughts: this was a fun, fabulous college-based story, which gives a fresh look of the world as through the eyes of someone in recovery from mental illness. I recommend!
“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.”
I think that this is definately one to read when it comes out in January 2018. Are you looking forward to it? What sounds like the most exciting aspect for you?