Book Review | Jane Was Here
Title: Jane Was Here
Author: Sarah Kernochan
Caroline Moss is a troubled young autistic woman who suddenly reawakens, insisting that she is Jane–not Caroline. Piecing together a long ago lived past, “Jane” travels to Graynier to confront her murderer. Brett, a 30-something father, and his estranged son, Collin, get caught up in Jane’s quest. Brett cannot help but love Jane, even though she tells him her entire story. 10-year-old Collin, on the other hand, takes an intense disliking to Jane and teams up with Gita, an Indian girl slightly older than he, to cause trouble for Jane. Life will never be the same for those who become caught in the middle of Jane’s search for answers–and the obsessive love that destroyed her life.
The synopsis above is more than I had to go on when I agreed to read Jane Was Here. It’s hard to say whether more or less is better when deciding if this is the sort of book you’d enjoy reading. Since author Sarah Kernochan defines the Caroline/Jane connection fairly early in the story and it won’t ruin anything for you, I might as well tell you: Caroline is the reincarnation of Jane. Earlier this year I read a series of books with reincarnated characters (written by M.J. Rose), so this is not a new subject interest for me. Jane Pettigrew’s life and death are indeed very tragic, and it makes for a compelling story that will undoubtedly keep many readers turning the pages as fast as they can. Unfortunately, the structure of the novel and way too much back information about nearly every character introduced made this an unpleasant read for me.
Jane Was Here is divided into 3 parts. The first part of the novel introduces Jane, Hoyt, Brett, Marly, and a couple of other characters that I didn’t find all that interesting. Marly and Hoyt, on again/off again lovers, crash their cars into one another after narrowly avoiding hitting Jane. Then Kernochan launches into their back stories in excessive detail, before introducing Brett and Collin and their back story. I enjoy getting to know characters and learning about why they are the way they are, but I hardly think that most of what Kernochan reveals is necessary. Iit’s a matter of too much telling and not enough showing. The entire second part of Jane Was Here is nothing but letters written by Jane Pettigrew. I got bored with them very quickly. Since Jane lived 200 years ago, her language is old-fashioned and awkward at times. They are all letters to the same person, Lysander Thane, the man she loves. I would have been more interested in this section of the book if Lysander’s letters were also included. I think it was a poor decision to group all the letters in the same section; they would have been more enjoyable if they were spooned out in between chapters instead. The third part of the novel contains the most action, and all the questions readers might have are finally answered. A lot of drama occurs, and silliness, too. I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters, even though some of them lost their lives.
I wanted to like Jane Was Here, and for the most part liked the premise. It’s a bit too convenient that everyone from Jane Pettigrew’s existence is all together at the same time, most remembering their pasts after coming in contact with Jane. This book just didn’t work for me, and I doubt I will consider reading anything else by this author.
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*