Review - The History of Jane Doe by Michael Belanger @MBelanger514 @PenguinTeen

The History of Jane Doe by Michael Belanger
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Date Read: July 3, 2018
Length:  304 pages
Source: First to Read
A poignant, deeply funny coming-of-age story about first love, first loss, and the power of history to give life meaning.

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.

Mixing humor with heartache, this is an unmissable coming-of-age story from an exciting new voice in YA.

My Review

There was a whole lot to like about this book.  I decided to read this book largely because I was intrigued by the cover.  I mean why would a green cow be on the cover of this book?  I had to know.  Once I started reading the story hooked me right away and I didn't want to set the book aside.  There is a so much more to this book than the green cow on the cover.  This was an emotional story filled with wonderful characters I wanted to pull into a big hug before I turned the final page.  I am so glad that I took a chance and decided to read this wonderful story.

This book is told in alternating chapters of before and after which I think worked really well.  From the start, you know things around going to work out the way you would want.  But you also get to see everything as it starts and the comparison was very powerful.  The book does handle a lot of difficult topics and I think it does a really good job keeping everything realistic.

I liked Ray and his friend Simon from the first page.  These characters were just fantastic and you couldn't help but cheer them on.  Jane fit in with the pair almost perfectly.  There was a bit of mystery around Jane and it was apparent early on that she was hiding a few things but her friendship with Ray and Simon felt very authentic.  It was so easy to envision this group of teens trying to navigate life in Burgerville.  I think that Simon and his love of milk caused more than a few laughing fits from this reader so expect a dose of humor in the story as well.

I would highly recommend this book to others.  This book deals with so many difficult issues in a seemingly expert manner.  I fell in love with the characters and wanted to see things work out in their life.  I will definitely be reading more from Michael Belanger in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Dial Books via First to Read.
About the Author

Michael Belanger is a debut young adult author and high school history teacher. He is a member of the Westport Writers’ Workshop and faculty advisor to Greenwitch, a high school literary magazine that has published talented young writers–including Truman Capote–for over a hundred years. He currently lives in Connecticut.

Links: Goodreads | Twitter


  1. I LOVED this book! I am simultaneously smiling and letting loose a few tears as I recall this story. Like you, I loved Simon and Ray so much. Their friendship was one for the books, and yes, MILK! There was a ton of humor, but when necessary, it got serious. My heart broke, but it was also full. Great review!

    1. Simon and his milk cracked me up! My husband drinks almost as milk as Simon so I think that made everything a bit funnier for me.

  2. a book that makes you laugh, cry and wonder about green cows. A thumbs up on the cover and review

  3. I might have to look into this one because you guessed it, I need to know about that green cow. You did make it sound wonderful as well. Great review!

  4. That's an interesting cover. Sounds good.

  5. I have read adult books by him. I did not know he has written a YA :)

    1. I thought that this was his first novel. I could be wrong though.

  6. I have to admit I would probably have bypassed this book based on the cover. I am glad to know it worked out for you. Great review.

  7. I hadn't even spotted the cow until you mentioned it! I was too taken by the coloured lettering which I love :-) Very effective

  8. It sounds like this is such a great book! I love that the cover intrigued you in that way and then you got a lot more than you bargained for when you started reading it. I love the sound of it handling deep topics and having wonderful characters too. Sounds so good to me :D

    1. I think you would really like this one, Olivia-Savannah!


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