A young Canadian woman joins the cast of a campus-produced reality TV show after she bombs out of her senior year of high school and decides to get her diploma at a local community college.
The opportunity to participate in The House of Orange, a reality show that offers as a prize the car owned by the show’s Korean-Canadian producer, comes at a good time for white Jane, who’d like to gain some space from her school and from her caring but unhelpful and earnestly Christian parents, who struggle to understand her. Resplendent with sardonic wit (“I’m afraid of oil spills, fascist governments and balloons that pop unexpectedly,” Jane deadpans at one point in her mind during a conversation with her imaginary psychiatrist, Dr. Freudenschade), this debut novel is at turns wickedly funny and thought-provoking. Jane’s remove from those around her, following a gradually revealed life-altering traumatic event, at first holds readers at a bit of a distance even though her narrative is partly told through confessional journal entries. However, the ridiculous, occasionally lewd, and sometimes alcohol-assisted antics of Jane and her competitors, including Punjabi-Canadian Robbie, for whom she develops serious feelings, are reliably entertaining and will keep readers engaged while Jane’s back story slowly renders her more fully dimensional.
Character-driven, humorous, and deceptively profound. (Fiction. 14-18)