This was so unexpectedly good and it warmed my heart in a way that a book hasn't in a long time. THE PLAIN JANES is one of those books that manages to be hip and empowering without feeling like it's being too heavy-handed, which is a rarity in this day and age. Jane Beckles is a cool, artsy girl suffering from PTSD from a bombing. She feels the world is going crazy, spinning out of control to dark forces, and it's made her jaded.
She and her family moved from the city to the suburbs, and Jane ends up finding her people at a table of misfits all named Jane. There's Jock Jane, Theater Jane, and Science Jane. Art Jane is the missing piece, the one who ends up tying them all together and causing them to be friends, when she gets the idea to stir up their community by creating Banksy-like installation people to get people thinking a little more about the world and their values.
Unfortunately, the authorities only see vandalism instead of art, and the Janes' attempts receive punishments to deter them. But you can't keep a Jane down, and as the P.L.A.I.N. movement gains a foothold in the community, other people in town start waking up to the world around them and feeling a little more free to confront their own demons and embrace who they are.
So yes, obviously I loved this book. I love art, I love installation art, I love the avant garde, and I love girl power. There were so many great messages in here about feminism, activism, diversity, inclusivity, and also being yourself when everyone is trying to squeeze you into a mold. Also, none of the villains were too two-dimensional. Several of them were complex and you could at least understand their motivations, which I really appreciated in a graphic-novel targeted towards teens.
This was a delight and I think it will be a hit with forward-thinking teens!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
4 out of 5 stars