4 to 16 Characters – Kelly Hourihan.

5/5 stars.

I really enjoyed 4 to 16 Characters. The protagonist, Jane Shilling, is a very likable 15 year old girl who has lost her mom to a car crash in the past year. At the time the novel starts, she is living with an alcoholic dad and going to an alternative high school since she has a learning disability (about which we never learn very much).

I think since because I spend a lot of time at my computer, this book just really pulled me in with its storyline – Jane writes fanfics under what she calls an “alter” (technically this is the term used for another personality in people with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which she does not have, but she does make up different personalities online). She also has other “alters” to talk about things she doesn’t feel comfortable talking about as Jane. The story is told in the medium of journal entries, IM conversations, Tumblr-like reblogs, and emails. Overall, it was a very clever way for Ms. Hourihan to get the story flowing, and once you’re used to the format, it really pulls you in.

As a social worker to-be, I just want to throw out there that I loved Jane’s descriptions of her different therapists, as well as her interactions with Nora Acton. I felt like cheering Nora on for being such a flexible, wonderful therapist for Jane as the book went on. And while we’re on character love, I wanted to say that Gary, who at the end of the book is dating Jane, is a freaking amazing character as well as Jane. I was rooting for him the entirety of the book.

I will definitely be keeping Ms. Hourihan on my radar. Well done, I say, for an exciting and fun book that doesn’t shy away from some of the more difficult problems that today’s teens face.

Many thanks to Lemon Sherbet Press, via NetGalley, for letting me read and review this book.


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