Jane Two is the debut novel from Sean Patrick Flannery better known as half of the vigilante duo the McManus Brothers from cult hit The Boondock Saints. So readers may be surprised by the laconic tale of Mickey, a middle schooler who’s discovering first love and forming his identity in a small Texas town outside of Houston during the 1970s. Jane Two evokes the feeling of wrinkled smiles, warm nights, and the scent of fresh grass and turpentine. It’s the feeling of summer.
Our main character, Mickey, is a shy, painfully literal kid whose courage and tenacity falls short when it comes to Jane, the quintessential girl-next-door. She’s his manic-pixie-dream girl. She loves Vans 95s and indie rock and paints with her headphones on.
Although Mickey is in many ways your typical lower middle-class Texan boy, who plays football and races his bike around the block each night, when it comes to Jane he’s quiet and shy and in his mind he can never seem to do anything impressive when she’s around.
Further complicated by the fact that Jane’s family is moving to a different neighborhood in a few months, Mickey spends a lot of time trying to work up the courage to speak to her. He’s bolstered by his grandfather, an old-school southern man with very specific ideas about love and what it takes to be a man. In addition to his family, Mickey receives life lessons from his sister’s drugged-out, hippie boyfriend, his middle school teacher, who also happens to be Jane’s mother, and various other colorful characters who populate his small town.
While Mickey’s trials are beautifully written and detailed, there is some language that is a definite throwback to the era. Mickey’s grandfather walks a fine line between sexism and common sense wisdom, but what he lacks in political correctness he makes up for in affection and understanding of what Mickey needs to reach his full potential.
If Mickey were a superhero, he’d be Barry Allen discovering that the only thing standing in his way is himself. His journey of self-discovery is fraught with pitfalls tempered by joy and moments of triumph. The reader will find themselves fully drawn into Mickey’s world and rooting for him at every turn.