Book Review: The History Of Jane Doe by Michael Belanger

“When someone dies, we spend so much time looking for an explanation. The rest of the time we spend making sure we won't forget them. So we build statues. Hold memorials. Visit graves. All of these physical markers that make it impossible to forget. But what if it's the opposite? What if the only way we can really remember is if we stop looking to the past? Maybe then they'll become more them and less us.”

― Michael Belanger, The History Of Jane Doe

A moving, hilarious coming-of-age tale about first love, first heartbreak, and the significance of history in human life.  This remarkable story from a captivating new YA voice blends comedy and heartbreak.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

History buff Ray knows everything about the peculiar legends and lore of his rural Connecticut hometown. Burgerville's past is riddled with green cow sightings and human groundhogs, but the most interesting thing about the present is the new girl--we'll call her Jane Doe.

Inscrutable, cool, and above all mysterious, Jane seems as determined to hide her past as Ray is to uncover it. As fascination turns to friendship and then to something more, Ray is certain he knows Jane's darkest, most painful secrets and Jane herself--from past to present. But when the unthinkable happens, Ray is forced to acknowledge that perhaps history can only tell us so much.

My reaction to this novel...

I came into this book while looking through Goodreads. I don't know why I read this one, but after hearing good things about it, I made the decision to start reading it right then.

Actually, the author of this book is comparable to John Green in terms of writing, according to the reviews I've read. I'm not a fan of John Green, yet something sparked my curiosity. This author, in my opinion, outperforms John Green. Of contrast to John Green's writing, which didn't touch my heart and left me feeling nothing, I was engrossed from the first chapter in this book. I was immediately drawn into the story and didn't want to put it down.  I am so happy that I opted to read this fantastic novel on a whim.

It worked incredibly well, in my opinion, to tell this book's story in chapters that alternate between before and after. You can see from the beginning that everything will turn out as you had hoped. However, you also get to witness everything as it begins, and the correlation was really effective. In spite of the fact that the book deals with a lot of challenging subjects, I believe it does a great job of keeping everything grounded in reality. As Ray recounts his and Jane's love story, the narrative transports you through joy, sorrow, and even tragedy. The author, in my opinion, did a fantastic job with a very delicate issue; in fact, he even added his own life anecdotes in the acknowledgements and resources for individuals who suffer from depression.

I adored everything about this book, including the odd local mythology, the characters' hearts and humor, the cover and from what was expressed to what was omitted. I can't wait to read more from this author; it's a fantastic debut.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5)

“I realize the main problem with history. You can talk about it. Analyze it. Dissect it. Study it. Put it in a museum. But you can never, ever, no matter how hard you try, relive it. By its very definition, it's over as soon as it happens. Meanwhile, life moves on.”

This is really accurate. For me, this quote has some relevance now, especially where I live. People often pause to consider what has transpired in the past. There are also occasions when it appears as though they value the past over the present. They continue to argue about what happened in the past, but if they stop to consider it, they will realize that while the past is significant, we shouldn't linger on it. Instead, we should make every effort and put out commitment in the moment to improve. Because the past is the past and cannot be changed, regardless of how frequently we discuss it.


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