Author : Kelly Hourihan
Publisher : Press Kit
Published date : 7 November 2013
Fifteen-year-old Jane Shilling’s best friends don’t know her real name. In fact, they don’t know anything about her at all. Jane’s life has collapsed in the last few years; following the death of her mother, her father turned to drinking, and Jane is reeling from the double blow. To escape, Jane devises a number of online personas, each with a distinct personality, life history, and set of friends. But things become trickier when she finds herself drawing close to some of her online friends, and winds up struggling with the question of how to maintain a real friendship while masquerading as a fake person. With the help of Gary, a socially awkward classmate and competitive Skeeball player who is Jane’s only offline friend, and Nora, her therapist, Jane begins to sift through her issues. The only catch is that that involves taking a long, hard look at what her life’s like when the computer is shut off, and that’s a reality she’s been fighting for years.
I got a free copy of 4 to 16 Characters from Netgalley.
I’m intrigued by the blurb of this book. It’s about a girl who traps herself in cyberspace reality because her real life is messed up. Let’s face it, we are now living in internet era. Everyone is expected to be always on, which is why I’m attracted to this book.
Apparently, 4 to 16 Characters is written in epistolary form. We’ll read about Jane’s life through her e-mails, chats (or IMs), and blog posts which makes reading this book become fun. I enjoy reading her adventure in the cyber world as herself or a fictional person that she created. I’ve told you before that we are living in internet era; internet is a very common thing in our life and that's why sometimes people using the cyber space as an escape from real life. In Jane’s case, her mother has passed away and her father is an alcoholic. She writes fanfics and creates several online personas to escape her problem. It also affects her school life. She stops doing home assignments which make her teacher suggested her to see therapist.
Jane is one interesting teenager. She’s just a high school student, but she has a college girl persona and a graduate student persona who’s working on her thesis. I find Gary funny too. He’s a geeky kind of boy who’s also socially awkward. In fact, I first know about Skeeball from him. Jane, technically has two therapists. She successfully got rid of her first therapist with the help of internet just so she could get another one. Luckily, her second therapist, Nora, is much much better than the previous. Nora's able to open Jane’s heart by approaching Jane through the internet. Sounds silly, but it works. Nora's method makes her seems like a therapist who we can trust because she’s willing to understand us.
One down point for me is Jane’s Look to Tomorrow addiction. The problem is I don’t know if this TV show is real or not, but it’s mentioned so many times in this book. Sometimes we could read Jane’s LTT fanfics in the book and her thoughts about last night’s episode and it annoys me that I don’t understand any of it. It feels like I read two different books.
I do love the theme and the idea that are being presented in 4 to 16 characters. If only the author chose a real TV show or a fictional TV show that is less confusing, I’ll give more point to this book. You might want to check this book out if you like young adult books.