Jerk, California

Jerk, California

by Jonathan Friesen


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Read Jonathan Friesen's posts on the Penguin Blog.

This Schneider Family Book Award winner changed the face of Tourette's Syndrome for modern teens. Wrought with tension, romance, and hope, Jerk, California tells the story of Sam, who sets out on a cross-country quest to learn the truth about his family and his inherited Tourette's Syndrome, along the way finding both love and acceptance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142412039
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 09/04/2008
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 599,146
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.98(d)
Lexile: HL510L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Jerk, California is Jonathan Friesen’s first novel. A fourteen-year public school teacher and writing instructor at the University of Minnesota, Jonathan shares his passion for writing with children of all ages—including three of his own, whom he home schools. He lives in Mora, Minnesota.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

-Compelling.+ -School Library Journal

-Emotionally rewarding and effective.+ -VOYA

-Like any good road story, there are enough corners and bends to keep readers eagerly anticipating what lies ahead at the journey+s end.+ -Booklist

Customer Reviews

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Jerk California 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jerk is the story of a young man who is freed form a cruel prison. I'm not talking about Tourette's but everything and everyone around him who beat him down with it, including himself. Obviously Jonathan writes out of his own experience and pain--and the story is beyond rich for it. I found myself cheering for Jack, balling up my fists and wanting to fight for him, alongside him. The ending was totally satisfying. Justice prevails at every level. As Jack becomes free from his prison, he frees others with him. It is the story of a beaten down young man who learns to stand tall and straight. A boy who quietly joins the ranks of men who have earned the title Hero. Not because of some glorious moment in a sporting event, but because of his choices, his character, the man he has become. This was the most enjoyable read I've had in a long, long time. I expect this book will be one that becomes required reading in high school classrooms all over the US. And it ought to be.
Kristin78 More than 1 year ago
Jerk California, now one of my very favorite books I’ve ever read, begins with an 18 year old graduate with Tourettes Syndrome, Sam Carrier. Sam ends up meeting a girl named Naomi while running a race that got rained out. Both were a mystery to eachother, but as you read further into the book, they end up bumping into each other more and more. When Sam becomes friends with the weirdo old gardener man, nicknamed Old Coot, he moves in and assists him with the gardening business. When Old Coot passes, Sam is left a puzzle by Old Coot to find the true story about his father who had allegedly run off with a woman and gotten himself killed. Naomi tags along for an unknown reason and as their trip progesses, the two get closer and closer. When they reach their destination, having stopped at all the windmills that Sam’s father had constructed, the duo eventually ends up at Sam’s grandmothers house in Jerk, California. When he is told the truth about his father’s past, he returns to his home town with the courage to face his mother and his abusive, OCD step-father. Even though Sam Carrier's life seemed complicated with Tourrettes Syndrome and a drunk, constantly counting step-dad, timid mother, and a town of typically narrow minded people, he proves that he's just the same as us and that he can overcome anything.
Lindsay_Caddell More than 1 year ago
In the novel, Jerk California by Jonathan Friesen, Sam Carrier, a recent high school graduate, struggles to stay sane with all of the obstacles thrown his way. Not only does Sam have to deal with Old Bill, his step-father who hates him and a mother who doesn't care, he also struggles from Tourette's syndrome and his social awkwardness. After being tortured by his relentless step-father for the last time, Sam leaves his house in an angry rage and starts roaming around the town. Eventually, a man they call "George the coot" took Sam in and gave him a job. When George dies unexpectedly, Sam leaves his home town to travel across American to a city named Jerk, California. Along the way, Sam meets family he didn't know he had, falls in love, takes on new responsibilities as an adult, and learns new things about himself that he never would have imagined. With the help of George, Naomi, and his deceased father, Sam finds the strength within himself to stand up to Old Bill and take his life back for good. I loved this book because there were so many twists that I didn't see coming. Everyone can relate to it in some way because throughout the book Sam faces so many different problems with family, friends, love, money, and self-esteem. It really made me appreciate how great my life actually is, to read about a guy whose life took wrong turns every day. The author based this novel off of his own life, so there are many life lessons to be found throughout the book. I have been blessed with a family who loves me and would never treat me the way Sam's family treated him. Now when I get angry or frustrated I remind myself that life could be worse. At least I have to ability to sit still.
ctmsjola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Have you ever read a book so real that it made you feel like a charcater in it? Well thats the feeling I got when I read the book Jerk,California by Jonathan Freisen. The author really pulled me into the book, captivating me from almost the start. With every crisp page i turned, I learned something new, and never knew what to expect.  Sam Carrier (the main character) learns he has tourettes at a young age. His life will never be the same from that point on. He soon understands that his dad died when Sam was two, from a tragic accident. His fathers "replacement" is a cranky old man who goes by Old Bill.Old Bill has given Sam trouble ever since he was diagnosed with tourettes. Sam's mother doesn't help the situation. All she does is try to stay on Old Bill's good side, if he even has a good side. Fortunately this all changes when Sam meets two important people.
ACleveland on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was not the best book I have ever read by far. It started off fast paste and then slowed down for awhile.Sam(the main character) goes through a lot in this book. He is a nice guy and for some reason his life is unfair in just about every way possible. Despite moping around and complaining about every little thing that happens. He tries to be happy and live his life. Some of the character could of been a lot strong or less see through, but at the end of this book. You will have a soft spot for Sam.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The protagonist of this young adult novel, Sam Carrier, has Tourette Syndrome (or TS). TS is a neurological disorder characterized by multiple involuntary motor and vocal tics. (The most common motor tics are eye blinks, throat clearing, and shoulder spasms. Vocal tics can include noises, obscenities, repeating word of others, or repeating ones own words.) There is usually a family history of the disorder, and males are affected more than females. It is estimated that 200,000 Americans have the most severe form of TS, and as many as one in one-hundred exhibit milder and less complex symptoms such as chronic motor or vocal tics or transient tics of childhood. Unfortunately, there is no one medication that is helpful to all people with TS, nor does any medication completely eliminate symptoms.Tics are often worse with excitement or anxiety and better during calm, focused activities. Importantly, most patients experience peak tic severity before the mid-teen years with improvement for the majority of patients coming not until the late teen years or early adulthood. Just the time you don¿t want it to peak: when other kids are at their meanest.Sam, a high school senior, is teased cruelly and mercilessly when he has attacks at school. Even the teachers are insensitive. It doesn¿t help that he has a stepfather who hates him for his disability, and constantly calls him a freak and worse. His embarrassment and self-loathing intensity when he finally meets a girl he cares about.After graduation, he meets some of his real father¿s friends who try to teach him that TS doesn¿t have to be the focus of your life in your own eyes or anyone else¿s. Discussion: The author also has TS, and has said in an interview appended to the book that Sam's ¿internal struggle with Tourette¿s syndrome mirrors my own quite closely.¿ He also talks about how difficult it was for him to develop self-esteem and self-acceptance under the circumstances.These issues are mirrored in Sam¿s story, and I think accounts for the fact that Sam is so well-drawn. The other characters, including Sam¿s mom and step-dad, his real dad¿s best friend, and Sam¿s love interest, didn¿t seem as realistic to me. It¿s a good story though, one that I didn¿t expect to like.Evaluation: This book has a lot to teach teens about what is really important in life.
omphalos02 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Underwritten YA story of teen Sam/Jack who has Tourette's Syndrome. Friessen doesn't seem to want to let the reader know what is actually happening during most of the book. For example, two-thirds of the way through the book:"We sit for hours. I can't locate any questions in my mind, and she must not have much to say. We speak about nothing in short, soft bursts, and fall back into safe silences. But somewhere in the middle, her hand grabs mine, and when we finally enter the house, I know things are okay with us."This is after a crucial scene, when something should have happened between Sam/Jack and his "love interest." It is extremely frustrating to read when the author gives so little to the reader. Book had a lot of promise, but did not deliver.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This didn't grab me at first, but very quickly I was drawn to these characters. Then I re-read the beginning to get anything I may have missed. This seemed like a more realistic view of Tourettes than we usually see in the media.
jenniferthomp75 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not since I read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" have I been so affected by a writer's style. At first, I was off-put by the halting, occasionally coarse writing. However, it soon dawned upon me that the writer has mimicked the main character's Tourette's Syndrome into his writing style (whether intentional or unintentional, I don't know). Once I recognized this, I was able to become fully absorbed into the plot and characters.This book is excellent. The characters, especially Georgoe and Sam/Jack, are fully realized, complicated and very empathetic. A fascinating, realistic look at a mysterious disease with which Friesen does a great job describing. The plotting and the character development is wonderful and believable. I recommend this book to both teens and adults. A refreshing, unique read.
dmreilly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very interesting, especially since the emotions the mail character feels closely relates to the author, who also has tourette's syndrone. Would recommend for high school rather than jr. high as the characters are that age, although some jr. high students could definitely relate to the feelings of the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im not in the mood to answer questions u already know the answer to
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think I read Jerk, California in fourth grade. I enjoyed it a lot, it was one of those books that I dreamt a sequel was made. It was touching, and throughout the book, I thought a lot about some of the things people said about Sam. It made me think. Do I want someone to treat me like that? Do I get to treat others like that just because they're different? If you know anything about Tourette's Syndrome, some common "tics" are jerking and twitching, and swearing randomly and uncontrollably. This, of course, is what Sam has. He is pretty much alone in life. Sam struggles with Tourette's. His mother pretends to try to support him and protect him against his abusive stepfather. He can really only talk to his shrink. But really, he is repulsed at the thought of needing a shrink. Then, one day, he goes on a road trip with a girl named Naomi. Naomi is the kind of character that I copied into one of my Barbie dolls. Cute! At the end of the story, there is a shocking surprise and discovery with Naomi and Sam. Read it to find out. I had two advantages in reading this book. The first advantage is that I am from Minnesota. I tend to enjoy any book where the Minnesotan author likes to place his characters there. Second, I got to meet Jonathan Friesen. Sort of. At a school seminar he spoke a bit about his experiences. It made me feel sad for him. His childhood was as troubled as Sam's. Maybe even moreso. He told of how in seventh grade, the grade I'm in, he stopped going to school and lived in his room. He began to write there. He wrote on his walls, namely "I HATE ME. I HATE ME." Wow. But, now he is married with three children and living happily. He's quite a great guy and rather funny, too. If you are looking for a great story about, love, loss, and cope, Jerk, California will really open your eyes. --MissFutureAuthor122 Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book changes the way you look at people, its an amazing book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. Really touching. In all, great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It touches your heart no matter how many times you read it. I dont think i will ever get tired of reading. The author neeeds to make a sequel!!! What do you think
audaciousauthor More than 1 year ago
Jerk, California is about a teenage boy called Sam Carrier (AKA, Jack Keegan) and his diseased biological father, his current short-tempered OCD stepdad, and the syndrome that continuously plagues him: Tourette’s. In a life instilled with not only a misleading condition, but also a life of lies, and secrets, Sam, AKA Jack, is sent on a life-changing expedition to find the truth about his real father. He’ll uncover true friendship, and even romance along the way in this emotional, relatable tale. I found the book very interesting and relatable to real-life situations. It is also an eye-opener to the affects of the very misleading “curse at everyone, punch random people” Tourette’s Syndrome. And for a random fun fact? The author of the book also struggles with TS.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that this book is really good. At times it is hard to read but its one of those books that you just cant put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mark Peterson More than 1 year ago
The strugles of the main character are sometimes excrutiating but the depth and development of the story wont let you put the book down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
haley55 More than 1 year ago
This book keeps you intrigued threw and threw. It describes things in ways that anyone disease or not can relate to. I read it once a few years ago and continue to think back on the vivid details and the descriptions of the surroundings. This is my second time reading it now and i dont believe my last. Wonderful book i almost wish there was more to it so i could follow the characters threw life. I think everyone one should read this and fall in love with the story like i did.