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4 to 16 Characters

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  128 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Fifteen-year-old Jane Shilling’s best friends don’t know her real name. In fact, they don’t know anything about her at all. Jane’s life has collapsed in the last few years; following the death of her mother, her father turned to drinking, and Jane is reeling from the double blow. To escape, Jane devises a number of online personas, each with a distinct personality, life hi ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published November 7th 2013 by Lemon Sherbet Press (first published November 6th 2013)
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3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  128 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Ash Wednesday
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it

Grief like that-- grief stemming from the loss of a loved one, someone who is needed desperately, someone without whom one cannot imagine one's life -- it is limitless. It has no boundaries. It consumes. The idea that one can "cope with" such grief is a myth.


I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to fanfiction. I got into a couple of fandoms way back when, pre-P2P, pre-Twilight, now that I think about it (holy fuck I'm old!). I was mostly into anime fanfictionry wh
Aug 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
Squandered Potential of a Great Concept

The concept of “4 to 16 Characters” by Kelly Hourihan is brilliant: a novel structured in the manner in which today's teens really communicate – through social media. However, the storytelling within this social media concept falls flat. The main character Jane is a teen not only coping with the sudden death of her mother, but with a disengaged father who eases his own pain over his wife’s death by drowning himself in a bottle. While the “troubled family” p
Jun 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Sometimes the synopsis of a book gives too much of the storyline away. Sometimes it doesn’t give you enough information about the book to decide if it’s really the book for you. The synopsis of 4 to 16 Characters made it sound like the perfect book for me – YA realistic fiction about a girl who spends far too much time online? Great – the type of book I almost always enjoy, and a girl who probably has some obsessions rather similar to my own.
The whole story is told through social media – chat ro
I've had this on my Kindle for so long and each time I try to get into it, it never goes too well. I've given it a few chances since I got it for review, and I'd rather finish them if I can, but realistically this just isn't for me. I liked the Internet aspect and it's a fun, quick read. I can see why people have enjoyed it but it's just not really my kind of book - at least not now. It's one of the many books I think my younger self would have been into a lot more.

If you like books about the o
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I think the main problem with this book was that I read it the same week as I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Both books are about teenage/young adult women who are involved in fandom and how online presence effects real their life but the difference was I liked Cath (in Fangirl) and I completely and utterly hated Jane, plain Jane or thejanethe. Jane is a teenage girl who invents characters on the internet to escape her real life and as the story unfolds we see how this invention begins to creep ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: requested, ebook
4 to 16 Characters is a book that follows teenager Jane as her life sinks into a dark place. Her mother has passed away and her dad's hit the bottle to cope, and Jane isn't all too sure what to do with it. She hates life, hates school, hates people in general. The one thing she doesn't hate? The internet and fanfiction. She escapes into the world of fake profiles on the internet, pretending to be someone she's not to deal with it all. She struggles with this as she makes a "real life" friend, an ...more
Lena Cox
Oct 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: debut-novels
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Can online relationships be trusted? Not talking relationships here, but the “friendships” created online in forums. Can online-only friendships equate to offline friendships? In real life, you know that even though your friend’s screen name might be “tofuluva,” you’ve eaten enough hamburgers with her to know that she’s no vegan. Whereas the actual person behind the username “princesspea”, could be a fat hairy 30-year-
Right out of the gate, I’m going to say that the story and the message within is a heart-wrenching story of a young girl, lost in the grief of her mother’s death and her father’s inability to cope and be a parent. Jane is feeling lost, drifting, and is losing herself to her online personalities who have a better life in her mind than she has in reality. They have support systems, she does not. When the crisis level peaks, Jane is forced to look inside, while reaching outside of herself to connec ...more
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed on Hey Teen Books Hey

*sceams in literary ectsasy*

In 4 to 16 Characters, Jane only feels at peace when she’s near a computer. She cuts class to hit fandom message boards on the computer lab, and brings her laptop to therapy. When she’s online, she can be anyone she wants to be. She can be Rachel, a well liked college student, or an emo recovering drug addict named Ethan.

She doesn’t have to be a lonely teenager whose mom just died, and whose dad is always drunk. The internet is better th
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Let me just say that NOWHERE in the blurb does it say anything about being all about writing fan fiction.

I do not write or read fanfic, so I was already lost 99% of the time. I don't live in Canada and while that doesn't necessarily mean anything, it took me Googling "Look to Tomorrow," to see if its an actual show there. It isn't. So this was essentially a fiction story about a fictional character who writes stories as fictional characters and about fictional characters. I was so lost, and by
Well, this was unpleasant. This is the story of a vicious and viciously lonely teenager. And given that, I'm sure you can imagine that it was not a fun or enjoyable reading experience.

The story is told entirely through journal entries, "ReCirclr" (read: Tumblr) entries, emails and IM conversations. I don't think this is automatically a bad thing and might even be an effective story telling tool if the main character, and also the story, isn't terrible. The "protag", Jane, has had an admittedly r
Megan Hodgson
Aug 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I would like to thank NetGalley and Lemon Sherbert Press for the ARC of this book! I really appreciate it!

Okay. I have been stewing about this review for a few days now, so I think I am finally ready to write this puppy.

1. This book was interesting. I love the format of blog posts, e-mails, chat sites, etc to tell the story.

2. This book was not e-reader friendly. If you are going to get it, I hope you have an e-reader with a way bigger screen than I did (although, I do have a Kobo Mini), or are
I can’t quite get my head around this book. I am torn with whether or not I liked this book. There were some good parts in the novel. I rather enjoyed the end. One of the few things I did like. I had trouble with reading the narrative. Jane’s voice was very authentic. So authentic that I felt it was , at times, too juvenile. In retrospect, that is a good thing. It’s not an easy thing to write in a child’s voice when you are grown, and separated from that voice. I commend Hourihan for that; and w ...more
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews
By the end of the story I realized this could true of so many teenagers around the world. Why only teenagers? It could be the story of so many of us, even older folks. Though I can’t keep the book in that special reserved book-shelf, as it is a digital copy, or categorized it as one of my favorites, the issue it deals with is relevant, and timely. And I’m glad that I have opted to review it.

4 to 16 Characters by Kelly Hourihan is the story of fifteen-year-old Jane Shilling, a high school girl, w
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was ok

When 4 to 16 Characters popped up on my reading list, I was really excited to see a book written outside the normal prose form. I think something that breaks the status quo is a huge bonus for young adult books, as students are drawn to the unique and unusual. Lately, I’ve seen several narratives written through a long series of poems, but I like that Hourihan went a different direction- writing the whole book through online interactions and posting. The tale is told through Jane’s private digit
Jen (Feffer)
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: language-alert, dnf
Sigh. I was *really* enjoying this, up until about 21%, when the language started. I have a 3 F-bomb rule, and I even bent it a little, because I thought it might just be one scene/minor character, and I was dying to know what was going to happen. But: no. The hits just kept coming. :(

I did skip to the end to see if I could piece together what happened. It was that well-written. The plot was different, the characters sympathetic and colorful, and the voice fantastic. It's just a shame good write
Aug 02, 2013 rated it liked it
*I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Lemon Sherbet Press and Kelly Hourihan*

This book is about Jane who has a dead mother and an alcoholic father. Jane is an internet addict and as a coping mechanism she has created several online personalities. The story is told through emails, blog posts and online messages.

I liked Jane and felt for her. Nora and Gary were my favourite characters though. This was an interesting book and I enjoyed seeing how
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love it. One of my new favorite books. The author totally pulls off the unique style of the book, and she's clearly fluent in the language of the internet and fandom. Very well written. (Note: I read an uncorrected proof. It may change before the final copy.)
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teenagers Who Are Involved in Fandoms/Internet Culture
Recommended to Thalia by: NetGalley
Read the review on my blog:
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
19/03/'14 edit: I've been thinking about this story a lot lately for some reason, and I realised recently it was because I have a bit of a problem with so many of the negative reviews/DNFs disliking it because it was 'about fanfiction'. I have a huge bone to pick about that, since it is not about fanfiction at all, but a girl trying to come to terms with her mother's death, her loneliness, and her father's issues. Fanfiction is one of the (many) mediums that she uses in order to deal with these ...more
(nb: I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley)

Jane Shilling’s life is a mess. Her mother died a year ago in a car crash, and her father has spent the time in a mournful alcoholic haze. Rachel is perky, funny, and smart, with a boyfriend and her university studies to keep her busy. Elana, a twenty-something grad student, is a staunch feminist working on her grad thesis about Edna St. Vincent Millay. Elana seems to take a perverse pride in yelling at people w
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fifteen year old Jane Shilling comes from a dysfunctional background. Her mother is dead and her father is an alcoholic. Above all, she is enrolled in a school for those who need a little more extra help. Having no 'real life' friends, Jane devises various online personas; each with a different life story, different name and their own set of friends. The most commonly used is Rachel; an attractive 27 year old female who writes fan fiction.

thejanethe (3:27:11PM): Of course it is. Look, my home
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I saw this book on NetGalley and was immediately drawn to the plot summary. 4 to 16 Characters follows Jane as she juggles her own real life with a string of identities she has created online. Her favourite TV show is holding a contest for fanfiction writers so Jane immerses herself in that world, neglecting the real world problems in h
As soon as I found out that this book surrounded the idea of fangirling and fanfiction and all that jazz, I knew I needed to read it. As a self-confessed fangirl, I know what it's like to feel as if nothing but the fandom exists, and I was curious to see an author's portrayal of it. I was actually pleasantly surprised, as Hourihan nailed fangirling on the head - it was just something else that was slightly off.

Jane has no friends - well, no friends that aren't online. Spending every possible mom
Aug 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2013
3 1/2 stars

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I want to know what fandom(s) Kelly Hourihan was/is in because I know this woman has fandom experience. Everything related to fandom in this book is SPOT ON, from the names to the capslock squeeing to Recirclr (Tumblr in disguise). This author knows fandom.

I thought the book would be more about Jane juggling her many online personas, but she really has one main one that she uses, a girl named Rachel. She has others
Haley Keller
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
I really had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book. I was looking for something to read on Netgalley, and it caught my eye primarily because of the fact that it is about a girl who spends a lot of time online. I'm always interested in books that try to portray Internet culture because it can be done brilliantly or horribly. I wasn't expecting just how deeply this book would also delve into mental illness.

I cannot stress how much I loved this book. It was one of my favorite rea
This book was totally emotionally perfect, not just because it involves emotions and all, but because those emotions got into me and I was feeling like the main character. I never expect from books to make me feel like this, and not so many have the pleasure, but this book was not like I thought it would be.

My first thoughts about the book… When I first saw the title, I don’t really know what I was thinking about, but I certainly thought that it was a strange title for a book. I was really inter
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Whether it intended to or not, this book made me second-guess the identity of every Internet friend and acquaintance I’ve ever made. You see, Jane (the main character) spends most of her time online. Not happy with herself or her life, she carefully crafts multiple online personas and switches between them depending on her mood. There’s a carefree college girl, an angry feminist, a suicidal goth boy, and many others. She keeps a file on each of them so that she can remember their backstories and ...more
Sep 20, 2013 rated it liked it
When I read the description for this book it really resonated with me. My father died very suddenly when I was in seventh grade at which point I dove into Internet culture and fandom. I never pretended to actually be someone I wasn't, but I DID role-play, which is essentially the same thing except you admit that you aren't that person. With a past like that I had to check the book out, just to see how the situation was handled. I would say that I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

I have to
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it
E-galley received through Netgalley for review.

Jane Shilling is a fifteen-year-old girl who has recently lost her mother in a car accident. After her other's death, her father has started drinking again, and Jane is practically left to her own devices. She attends Spectrum, an alternative school for kids with issues - Jane apparently has a "non-verbal learning disability". She's been through various therapists, but is very distrustful of them all. In order to escape from her difficult daily life
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