A Different Type of Friend Group, The Rejects
Updated: Oct 22, 2022
Castellucci, C., & Rugg, J. (2007, May 2). The Plain Janes. Minx. ISBN 978-1401211158
When Jane Beckles is forced to move from the confines of Metro City to Suburbia after she was caught in a bombing, she thinks her life is over. But at lunch, she meets three new friends that share the same first name. Although the girls’ personalities could not be more different, “Main Jane” is able to convince them to form a club. The club is a secret art gang that paints the town P.L.A.I.N. - People Loving Art In Neighborhoods. But can art attacks really save the hell that is high school?
The PLAIN Janes is a three-part graphic novel series. The story opens with the main character, Jane, being thrown to the ground while walking to a nearby café. After the explosion, Jane’s life is never the same and she feels...different. She immediately changes her hair and entire look but begins to feel like her friends “don’t like anything about her anymore.” So, when Jane’s parents leave the city in search of a “safe” life for their family, she decides to seek out a different type of friend group, the rejects. The group of girls share the same first name, yet their personalities are as different as can be Main Jane (the artist), Brain Jayne (the academic), Theater Jane (the thespian), and Polly Jane (the athlete). The girls are united by their frustration with the adults in their lives. To bring beauty to their humdrum lives, Main Jane encourages the others to form a secret art gang and paint the town P.L.A.I.N. At night, they sneak out and decorate the town with sculptures, notes, and other artwork to fight suburban indifference.
Written over the course of the fall semester, the characters’ distinct styles and expressions are developed through their overnight “attacks” and daily school life. But for Main Jane, the group is more than simple teenaged rebellions; it is key to her survival. Armed with her sketchbook and a mission of opposition to the status quo, Jane is determined not to let fear rule her life. Meanwhile, the girls face the typical growing pains of adolescence, friendship, romance, and independence. Through art, Main Jane begins the process of healing and regaining the control she lost in the bombing, while the rest of the Janes find their identities and the independence they were seeking. “Teenagers looking for a relatable story will enjoy this series and may be inspired to bring creativity to their own lives, too.” (Booklist, 2020)
In the first installment, printed in blue ink, Jane “Main Jane” Beckles was a regular teen until she was caught in a bombing in her city that prompted her parents to move to the suburbs. In her new school, she and her new friends—Jane, Jayne, and Polly Jane—form a guerrilla art group called P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods). The second entry, printed in pink, has Janes struggling with interpersonal conflict and a lack of funds for art supplies. Jane corresponds with Miroslaw, the Polish stranger whose life—and sketchbook—she saved in the explosion and whom she visited while he recuperated, unconscious, in hospital. Grades 8-11.
- Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2020)
· Great Graphic Novel for Teens: Commended, 2008 & 2021
· CCBC Choice, 2008
· Kirkus Reviews, 2020
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Isolation — After “Main Jane” is caught in a bombing in the city, her
parents move to the suburbs. Once recovered, Jane completely changes her looks and only asks for one thing at her new school... To Be Left Alone!
Grief — “Main Jane” feels like everything “cracked into a million pieces” on the day of the bombing. She feels like no one understands what she went through and becomes angry at everyone. She feels like John Doe, a man that is currently in a coma, is the only one that understands her and has guilt about not finding his personal belongings so that she could help him find his family.
Fear — After getting her returned letters in the mail, Jane MUST get to the city and find John Doe. Being back in the city made her panic and she was afraid of being left alone.
· Trace the main characters' personal growth over the course of the novel.
· Story map: Multi-leveled lesson
· Graphic Novels in Education, by CBLDF
o Plots, Themes, and Values
o Critical Reading and Inferences
o Language, Literature, and Language Usage
o Cultural Diversity, Civic Responsibilities, and Social Issues
o Content-Area Lessons
o Modes of Storytelling and Visual Literacy
o Suggested Prose and Graphic Novel Pairings