Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review: Jerk, California

Title Jerk, California
Author Jonathan Friesen
Genre YA Literary Fiction
Rating A

Summary Sam Carrier is about to graduate high school--the end of his torturous existence of managing his Tourette's Syndrome around less-than-sympathetic classmates. But that's only the beginning: he gets a job with the town "crazy old coot" to escape the abuse he gets from his stepfather, meets the girl of his dreams, and goes on a surprising road trip (with the girl of his dreams).

First Line "'Sam has it. Question is, how bad?'"

Review This book choked me up from nearly start to finish. I read the first five pages while standing in the book store--to see if the book was worth getting because I'd eyed it a couple of times, but never made the commitment--and decided I had to have the book. Then I had to go home and read it right then.

Sam's disease (and his efforts to control it while still suffering through the regular problems of hormones, family problems, school drudgeries, and self-discovery) was compelling to read. He was a good narrator. The other characters were pretty interesting as well. His relationships with George (the crazy old coot), his mom, and Naomi (aka, the girl of his dreams) were complex and you could feel the emotion; you could even feel the negative emotions between him and his step dad.

Sam's trip of self-discovery was fulfilling to read. The only thing that was not-quite-so-fulfilling was that, at times, Sam was obtuse (when at other times he's clearly self-aware) and is slow to figure things out that are pretty clear to the reader. It happened most often in the second half of the book, but the ending resolved well (without me knowing exactly how everything was going to sort itself out), so that's redeeming.

Recommendation Fans of YA fiction with less-than-traditional narrators that allow you to get a two-for-one (typical YA self-growth book coupled with getting to learn something about a topic they don't know much about--in this case: Tourette's Syndrome) bonus will enjoy this book.

1 comment:

Mishel said...

I haven't heard about this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm very interested in reading about a protaganist with Tourette's.