At nearly 16, Jane has lived in the shadow of her little sister Emma’s cancer diagnosis for over three years. Not that she was ever in the limelight; it is her sister who is the talented one, a dancer who at ten had been outgrowing her small town teachers’ skills. Jane had never resented her sister’s talent; without any interests herself, it had always kept the pressure off her.
Now though, with her parents struggling to cope financially and emotionally, Jane’s life in her rural mining village seems to be a never ending monotony of skipping school, long bus rides to the hospital and hanging out with a boyfriend she doesn’t even know why she is with. Nobody really cares that her life is stuck in neutral; she is finding it difficult to care herself ...
Ultimately, Jane begins to understand the real parts of her life that are good; her sister Emma's chances of recovery begin to improve and the two sisters try to rebuild the relationship they shared before the illness took over.
a brave and harrowing story that sensitively handles serious issues such as juvenile cancer and mental illness
CBI Recommended Reads 2016
Although novels about serious childhood and teenage illness are now quite a common element of the juvenile publishing industry, it is rare to encounter one which treats the subject with such insight or emotional intensity as Kim Hood’s Plain Jane (O’Brien Press, €8.99). This must be one of the most powerful novels to have emanated for some time from an Irish publisher … It might, too easily, be summarised as “a tale of two sisters”. But such an inadequate description gives little indication of the nature of the relationship between the sisters – or of the personal, familial and, above all, medical entanglements in which their lives become ensnared … Hood’s insights into the complexity of feeling experienced by a young woman in Jane’s position are portrayed with clarity and sharpness, but without ever allowing notions of sentimentality to intrude
Robert Dunbar, Irish Times
as challenging in topic and tone as her debut, Finding A Voice. Telling a complex tale completely in the first person is no mean feat, particularly if that first person is an unreliable witness. But by allowing us inside the head of a central character so full of doubts and contradictions, Hood manages to evoke reader empathy where it would likely not have existed in a third-person narrative
The novel certainly has the all the intensity and manic energy of Hood's writing process … This is immersive writing at its best. Jane's teen voice is utterly authentic … Hood writes with conviction and confidence. This is a book you don't just read, you live. You walk through every dark and devastating scene in Jane's shoes and come out the other side, wiser and more compassionate for the experience … an exceptional novel from one of Ireland's most exciting YA talents
an involving, ambitious and rewarding read
I loved Kim Hood’s previous novel, Finding a Voice and this one is even better … A complex and highly realistic character, Jane is beautifully drawn and although she’s not always easy to like, the reader walks in her shoes and grows to care about her deeply. Hood is a gifted writer, and the themes she chooses to tackle – in this book, sisterhood, cancer and teen mental illness – are deeply personal and always fascinating and I can’t wait to see what she does next. (4 stars)
definitely a five-star, recommended read
I loved this book – it is a more than worthy second book, which shows that author Kim Hood is set to stay on the literary scene, for which I am very glad, and I look forward very much to finding out what she has up her sleeve for future books
a moving book about growing up, illness and sisterhood. I really enjoyed it … Kim Hood is a real rising star in the Irish YA world
LOVED reading Plain Jane … Important topics wrapped up with amazing characters
I love a good contemporary. I love it more when there are elements of realism – and I mean REAL realism, not the sort of realism that isn’t likely to ever happen to any living person but still necessitates a disclaimer that persons or events within the story are fictional yadda yadda … I like my real books to be real. With Plain Jane – Kim Hood achieved just that … Each character, even the secondary ones, are well-developed and essentially real people, which is all one can ask for in a book really! … brilliantly done … a wonderful dose of contemporary realism and a fantastic example of a book written the way it should be: shown, not told
a very exciting, gripping and touching read … an unforgettable and must read book for all teens
Maisie Sadler for lovereading4kids.co.uk
This book is packed with so much emotion and creative story-telling, I didn’t think my heart would keep up. Wow. I enjoyed every part of this book and couldn’t put it down
Megan West for lovereading4kids.co.uk
captivating … I recommend this to everyone … a truly brilliant book
Katherine for lovereading4kids.co.uk
Unique from any book I have previously read, Hood ingeniously captures the essence of what it is like to be affected by a catastrophic illness … Through her complex characters, and ability to perfectly gauge the thoughts of a teenage girl, Hood once again crafts a captivating story that I, for one, couldn’t put down. Furthermore, unlike most young adult stories, Hood addresses multiple topical issues seemingly with ease, undoubtedly creating a more accurate portrayal of what it is like to be the sister without the illness
Morgan Steigmann for lovereading4kids.co.uk
Emotional, powerful and compelling, I loved 'Plain Jane' from the very first page. I was a massive fan of 'Finding A Voice' and the latest novel from Kim Hood was certainly not a letdown … For fans of books such as 'The Fault In Our Stars', 'My Sister's Keeper' and 'Dandelion Clocks' this book is a must read
Amy Laws for lovereading4kids.co.uk
thought provoking and at times I had tears in my eyes … sensitive … informative … a must read!
Edel Waugh, lovereading4kids
told with real insight and compassion; it takes the reader on a dark journey before bringing a real message of hope
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