Jerk California by Jonathan Friesen

October 3, 2008 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

Although this book feels a bit scattered and slightly confusing in the very beginning, bouncing around in time periods of the protagonists life, it quickly falls into a nice groove as you are invited into the life of an 18 year old boy with Tourrette’s syndrome living in a “middle of nowhere” kind of country town. Sam has always blamed his problems on his Tourrette’s and, in turn, on his father who died wrecklessly, abandoning him and his mother when he was 2 years old and passing to him this “freak” disease. However, as the book progresses we learn along with Sam that everything that his “new father” has told him about his “real father” is a lie – and we can only see just how bad this “new father” is as Sam discovers this for himself. Sam’s emotional journey is prodded along by a carefully planned road trip mapped out by a very good friend of his “real father” that he ends up taking with a mesmorizingly beautiful girl with problems of her own. This is a very well written book about self discovery that feels a little bit more complex and dense than your average YA book. I would recommend this mostly to high schoolers, but it is certainly not inappropriate for advanced 7th or 8th grade readers.
(Review by Amy Kaplan)
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