[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/4867904]
Almost a year since the attack that sent Jane and her parents to the 'burbs, Jane is still having dreams about the garbage can bomb in Metro City. As she tries to deal with these flashback, the P.L.A.I.N. Janes try to keep up their art attacks around town ... and get dates for a non-Valentine's Day dance.
Again, this is a cute top story with some seriousness underneath. All the Janes are secretly pining after someone, and a girls-ask-the-guys dance prompts them to act on their feelings. Main Jane is crushing on Damon, but afraid to talk to him after his arrest for her art attack. Miroslaw (formerly John Doe) is awake, and he and Jane exchange letters and care packages. He inspires Jane to apply for an art grant to make the P.L.A.I.N. Janes legit. Meanwhile another attack in Metro City scares Jane's mom into never leaving the house. In an effort to get her to come out, Jane's dad refuses to go in. Neither seems to notice that Jane isn't fairing well. And then Jane hears back from the grant people and has to sneak into Metro City to present her portfolio. Da da dum.
In this installment, the Janes are joined by James, the lone gay guy who was a walking stereotype in the last book. He gets to be a much more complete character here with interests beyond being uber-gay. Still, he bemoans the lack of gay guys in Kent Waters as the rest of the Janes set their sights on their dream guys. He doesn't get the happily ever after that some of the Janes do, but he does get to ogle the whole (hot) guys' basketball team. And no one thinks it's gross! James also plays a very important role when Main Jane starts to receive letters from a Secret Admirer. SPOILER: When it turns out that these letters might be from a girl, James has a little talk with Jane about how to let Secret Admirer down easy, emphasizing that Jane should do everything in her power to not make Secret Admirer feel weird for crushing on another girl. This little tidbit is added in without making any kind of a big deal or turning into too much of a "teaching moment." James' concern is genuine and natural. End Spoiler.
The Janes all deal with a little heartbreak, being in love will do that, and it brings them closer. Example:
"The thing about having a good true friend is that it's ok if you cry so hard that snot runs down your face. Because their arms are strong and their heartbeat is loud ... and you can be your smallest and ugliest in front of them."Initially they were friends because they had no one else, then because they shared their passion for the P.L.A.I.N. Janes. Now they're just friends, who still sit together for lunch and sometimes dress in all black to put in a midnight art installation.
Book 1: The Plain Janes
Book source: Philly Free Library