Dawn Ang's Reviews > Jane Was Here

Jane Was Here by Sarah Kernochan
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Nov 14, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: first-reads, reviewed, paranormal
Read on December 14, 2011

All aspects of Sarah Kernochan's novel "Jane Was Here" can be described with one word: ridiculous.

Let's begin with the characters of this book because I find them to be where "Jane Was Here" fails the most. All of the characters are obnoxious, stupid, and pathetic. None of them are likable in the least. I don't know why it would seem reasonable to create characters with whom readers will not sympathize. Some of them are not even really woven into the main plot and are just added in to make a point about the premise of the novel, which I will address later. For the figures that are brought into the story of the titular Jane, they become unreasonably obsessed with her for no real reason and no actual explanation as to why they would decided to react to her the way they do (unless you count the premise's ultimate explanation--which I don't because it still doesn't explain anything). Jane is referred to several times as "unstable" but I think that's the perfect word to apply to all the characters as well. I promise you I am not exaggerating--none of the people in the town of Graynier come off as sane, balanced human beings. If you don't believe me, read the book... I dare you (but I'm just joking don't actually read the book; it's terrible).

The depiction of racial and cultural stereotypes in this novel borders on offensive, and at some points crosses it. This is another inexcusable failure of the book. It seems to me, as a reader, that the author hates the characters and thinks the worst of them. Racial and cultural stereotypes are everything these characters are presented as being. Even some who defy the stereotype and who are billed to be intelligent individuals are either tragically damaged psychologically and emotionally or are degraded with urban vernacular that I would assume is used to lend the character some "authenticity". There is a college educated black woman in this book with a stereotypically urban vocabulary but "Websters it" when talking to white people. Crosses the line. The Indian family in this novel is Hindu but attends church "just to fit in" in the small town of Graynier--which, as it is pointed out in the book, was once a place where you wouldn't find names with too many or too little vowels (i.e. "At 62, Thom remembers a time when the town had no Poonchwallas or Alvarezes or Ngs--names with no vowels or too many" [95]). This comment can be excused save for the fact that the rest of the novel takes on this same tone when talking about anyone. Those living in the small town are incredibly irresponsible parents, or live in trailers, or cook and deal meth which greatly colours their character despite the redeeming attributes they do have. I don't know why it is that the author chose to craft the figures in the most unattractive way possible but it's ridiculous that she does. They're not in real--they're just biases.

The novel's premise is the final flaw I'm going to discuss. I can't say too much about it without giving it away but I will say that it does not make any sense. At all. None. None whatsoever. You are going to read this book (if I have not succeeded in steering you away from it) and roll you eyes at the unraveling of this "great" mystery. It's... ugh... just dumb.

"Jane Was Here" is an awful novel with repulsive characters and a terrible premise that is carried out through a disjointed plot. I would not recommend this to anyone. Stay away from it.


On a side note: I have to talk about the aesthetics of the book. Italics are overused in it. Overused to death. It's EVERYWHERE. It's distracting and unnecessary. There is a point where a newspaper article is inserted in the narration using wider left and right margins and it worked but for some reason a series of letters (that go on for pages) must be italicized. Why? And for another thing, these letters were addressed to different people but they are discovered all together by the writer of the letters. Why would the writer of letter addressed to different people have them all together? Did they send them back to her? Ridiculous.

Okay, I'm officially ranting now. Apologies.
2 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Jane Was Here.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

12/14/2011 page 120
show 1 hidden update…

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Jennifer Moe Thank you for this review! I felt the exact same way about this piece of trash. Would it have hurt the story to create one likeable character? They were all horrible people and most readers need someone to root for and sympathize with. I read this book because it got great reviews from most readers and it was a free kindle download. I have no idea why so many readers loved this book. It was awful and your accurate review is in the minority. I wouldn't recommend this garbage to anyone.

Kathleen Just read it too and completely agree with you!

message 3: by Cassidy (new)

Cassidy Thank you so much for this review. I just tried reading it and am astounded so many people liked it so well. It's AWFUL.

back to top