Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Book review by
Rachel Sarah, Common Sense Media
Nice Try, Jane Sinner Book Poster Image
Teen reinvents herself after suicide try in complex tale.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story explores how one young woman tries to recover after a suicide attempt, and the challenges teens face when they leave home to live on their own. It also details the complicated feelings that arise when your parents are disappointed in you. 

Positive Messages

The writing is often wry and dark, with a dose of mean backstabbing that happens on reality TV shows. Learning how to forgive and heal is a main theme, with a strong message about trying to live on your own and speak your mind. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jane Sinner is deep and complex, but she also makes some very rash decisions. The thoughtful therapist in this story exists only in her mind. 


Reference to past suicide attempt.


Mentions of sex, but no sexually descriptive scenes. 


Conversational swearing by teens throughout the novel, including "s--t" and variations, "f--k," "ass," "bitch," "motherf---ing."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens are described as drunk, drinking, and buying alcohol. They also discuss doing drugs (such as cocaine) but there are no scenes describing using.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nice Try, Jane Sinner is about a Canadian teen who's trying to recover after her suicide attempt and getting kicked out of high school. She reinvents herself as she participates in a low-budget reality TV show in which contestants' filmed lives are constantly projected on TV and social media. The story is told through Jane's journal entries, and there's lots of swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k") and drinking and discussion of drug use. (The legal drinking age in this part of Canada is 18, and when the story begins, Jane is 17.) Note that the story could be triggering for teens with depression and thoughts or experiences of suicide.

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What's the story?

As NICE TRY, JANE SINNER starts, a few months after trying to kill herself, 17-year-old Jane is trying to start over: She moves out of her religious parents' home and decides not to go back to high school. Instead, she enrolls in community college, but she has nowhere to live. Then she learns about House of Orange, a very low-budget reality TV show filmed by a student at the community college. In exchange for being a contestant on the show, Jane gets a room and the chance to remake herself. Along the way, she learns some poignant lessons about friendship, faith, and the meaning of life. 

Is it any good?

Despite the rather devastating premise, this is a complex story about how to get back on your feet after falling hard. The writing in Nice Try, Jane Sinner is often snarky and sometimes raunchy, and the humor is both dark and real. The story's format flips between dialogue and journal entries without chapter breaks, which can prove to be a little frustrating. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how recovery after a suicide attempt is portrayed in Nice Try, Jane Sinner. How difficult would it be to pick yourself up and start over?

  • What do you think of the level of swearing in Nice Try, Jane Sinner? Does it seem realistic? 

  • What do you think of the amount of drinking the teen characters do? Does the fact that the drinking age in Canada is 18 affect how you view it? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love teen and coming-of-age stories

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