Jerk, California
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Jerk, California

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,927 ratings  ·  297 reviews
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 lov...more
Paperback, 327 pages
Published September 4th 2008 by Speak
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Feb 03, 2009 Tasha rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
Sam Carter has been bullied throughout his high school days because of his tics and outbursts that come from his Tourette's Syndrome. Unable to control his movements, except for very short periods, Sam is shunned by his stepfather, Bill. Bill has told Sam many stories about his neglectful real father who womanized and drank and gave Sam his disorder through his faulty genes. Now Sam is about to graduate from high school. He has no prospects, no college dreams, nothing to look forward to. It all...more
"Jerk, California" is about a soon to be high school graduate named Sam Carrier. All his life he has been called things like Twitch, Freak, and Jerk because of his Tourette Syndrome, a disease he inherited from his father that causes uncontrollable body movements (twitches and spasms and such). It doesn't help that his real dad is dead and his stepfather is abusive, while his mom is totally unsupportive. Then one day he meets a guy named Old Bill, and a girl named Naomi, and they are just the st...more
A rare 5-starer!!!

1. This is about a boy named Sam/Jack with Tourette's.
He hates it, but I love him for it.
2. This book involves a Road trip.
Which I love.
3. We have a love-hate-like-love story going on.
And, it's not annoying.
4. Our main character is extremely strong-in the emotional sense.
He is also very enjoyable and likeable.
5. The Title has a double meaning.
and, I find that pretty cool!
6. I think you should read this.
It's good, I bet you'll like it!

Sidenote: I have to note that reading this...more
Christina Wilder
I'll start out by saying that I can't really control my thoughts, I'm easily distracted and confused, and I'm still going through a lot of major personal stuff, but this book was HARD AS HELL to follow. Long scenes were summed up in a couple of sentences, the main character talked to himself constantly (although this might have been a symptom of his Tourette's), and characters came and went. All in all, not a very enjoyable read, especially since the story took some bizarre turns near the end, b...more
Sarah Tilatitsky
Five stars because this is about life, and the realities of life. The hugging and the protecting is fake, well, mostly fake. There is danger, andyou know what and where it is. YOu know what is right and what's wrong, but you bother to do the wrong. Bullying and tormenting are ways to punish each other, and to a kid that cannot help what happened. Sam, or Jack (later in the story, so you should read this book) has Tourette Syndrome. It's the twitching and some humming or words that come out invol...more
This was a very low-key story, heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time, about a boy trying to handle living with Tourette's Syndrome. His father died when he was a very young boy and his new stepfather was a mean and abusive man unable to live with a less than perfect son. The stepfather told the boy horrible stories about his father and made the boy believe that his father rejected him. This is about the boy's journey to find out who is father really was and to not accept as truth ever...more
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The theme/ message the author is trying to potray is to accept both yourself and others. Sam is a teenage boy diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, Sam is always twitching and has several verbal outbursts. So, of course, high school is nothing but torment.With kids at school calling him names and an abusive father at home thats just waiting to kick him out... life is nothing but a horror movie for Sam. His only escape is running. When hes on the track all the pain goes away for a little while. The...more
So relieved to like this Peach, 2010-2011 selection, one of the couple that I hadn't personally read which we placed on this year's twenty nominees list. Sam Carrier is plagued with Tourette's in a small Minnesota town that hasn't been kind to him. He has suffered a home life that also hasn't been supportive--his stepfather Old Bill was happy enough to change his name when he married his mother and adopted him, but ever since the Tourette's manifested, he's been treated about as well as the old...more
E.A. West
Jerk, California is one of the best YA novels I've read in a very long time. A story of self-discovery, it follows Sam as he struggles with a cruel stepfather, constant frustration and embarrassment because of his Tourette's, and a father who left when he was two. As the story progresses, Sam takes a road trip set out by the man he'd grown up thinking was the town crazy. Turns out the old guy was smarter than Sam realized.

Jerk, California shows the importance of looking past strange behavior, we...more
Wow. Different book than I normally read, but it was touching to read about Sam/Jack. The book jerks and careens along, with small moments of logical calm, which was a nice way to convey Jack's emotional state without actually saying it. Several of the secondary characters were nicely developed, even with the first person view, except Naomi. She (and their story) was the worst part of the book - we barely learn about her history, have no idea why she's with Jack, and have no way of telling if sh...more
Neal O'Connor
Jerk California by Jonathan Friesen is a young adult book about a boy named Jack Keegan who suffers from Tourettes Syndrome, the psychological abuse of his stepfather Old Bill and an identity crisis brought on by the death of his real dad while he was a baby. After Jack graduates from high school, he meets a man named Old Coot who gives him a job, a place to live and some information about the true nature of his father oh whom Jack hardly knows. Meanwhile Jack frequently runs into a girl named...more
W Habecker
So, if you couldn't already tell, I tend to like books that I think are easy reads. Considering this was my third book in as many days, I think it qualifies.

It's about 327 pages. I started reading it at about 3 and finished around 7:30 or 8. Just ran right through it.

The main character has tourettes which is kind of the bane of his existence. The way the back of the book puts it, it seems that this is going to be the central theme. It's not. Sure at the beginning some people make fun of him for...more
Jeff Thomson
Sam Carrier was diagnosed as a young boy with tourettes syndrome. He was tormented throughout high school and was raised by a step dad who resented him, and a mom that didn't have the strength to stand up for herself. Sam is fed lies throughout the novel about his real father (James Keagan). These lies make it hard for Sam to find himself, and he struggles through identity issues.

All hope is lost for Sam until he hooks up with George "the old coot" and Naiomi, his dream girl. The novel embarks o...more
Rating A

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...more
Lisa (A Life Bound By Books)
Jerk, California took us on a journey of Sam, a teenager with Tourett’s syndrome. The beginning of the book shows us just how hard Sam had things at home and just how misunderstood the condition was during the time. His step father is the worst of all. Treated Sam as badly as anyone could be treated, tourrets or not. Sam enjoys going on long runs because it’s one of the only things he can do and count on where he’s in full control of his body.

As soon as he graduates he’s left more or less to fen...more
Manik Trikha
I would recommend this book to any teenage high school who has ever felt like an outsider or has ever been in an awkward situation. This book is about the life of Sam Carrier (Jack Carrier) who suffers from tourettes. Sam just like most teens also feels the pain of infatuation. He finds it extremely tough to fit in and the only way he can make himself feel better and accepted is running. When his coach offered him to run ahead and give a scouting report Sam said to himself "I'd be running for th...more
Tourette's Syndrome is the center of this young adult novel that I opted to read in an attempt to widen my knowledge base of youth literature in preparation for next school year. Although the novel is well-intended and the author links his own experience to the novel, I found it lacking in flow. Some of the middle seemed rather extraneous and slovenly. The love story between the teenagers was also something that wasn't developed. One doesn't get a sense of why they even like each other, and the...more
The plot line was totally ridiculous. The first chapter gave you the impression the book was totally something different than it turned out to be, it was completely unbelievable and fantastical. The characters were tired as well, the overly asshole stepfather,the pathetic mother that may as well not be there, the spunky female love interest and it goes on.

Another reviewer mentioned this as well and I agree. The narration changes styles. The main character starts out speaking one way then change...more
This was a great book. Realistic, emotional... I was hooked. It wasn't what I expected exactly, but I felt so much for the characters that it didn't really matter.

Reading (and seeing, so to speak) the journey Sam took, how he grew throughout the book, was heartwarming. Some really lovable secondary characters, and loathe-able (aka. Stepfather Old Bill) of course... there was just something about this story that left me unable to put the book down.

I think the message it was trying to portray ab...more
I am ranking the book two stars, as the two star description fits my feelings about this one, "it was okay." Sam Carrier has Tourette's Syndrome and struggles to deal with his twitches. I found it to be a bit predictable in sections, and I felt many of the conversations weren't very believable for me. Another issue I had was that Sam involuntarily says curse words as a part of his disease. This is extremely rare in Tourette's Syndrome. Only about 5% of people with the syndrome involuntarily say...more
Joshua Yoon
This book can be frustrating, amazing, and heartbreaking at many points. The main character has Tourette's syndrome and has an extremely difficult time with his stepdad and people at high school. After graduation though, George (Old Coot) sends him on a journey to Jerk, California, where he will find out who he really is and what his deceased father has to say. I felt like I could relate to Jack/Sam (main character; long story on the name, you'll have to read it for yourself) in the sense that w...more

Summary: Jerk, California tells the fascinating story of high school senior Sam Carrier's search for the truth about his life. Rejected by his stepfather after being diagnosed with Tourette's as a child, Sam has endured plenty of bad treatment at home and school. His best, and only release from the constant betrayal of his body's constant movement is in running.
A mistake and a fortunate fall introduce the lovely Naomi into his life of chaos and the beginning of a most memorable year for Sam...

This book is a very good look at how families change and how one person can feel completely isolated in one setting but not another, depending on the people around them. I enjoyed the writing style but the accents seemed off, given that these people are supposed to be from the midwest USA. There was a secondary storyline that added interest too. Overall, I enjoyed the complexity of most of the characters - they make decisions and all do a combination of "good" and "bad" things. Towards the end,...more
I just kind of grabbed this one off the shelf and thought it looked intersting. It was. It starts a little slow and it is a bit difficult to read at times but it gives and interesting insight into Tourette's and turns into a wonderful story.
Kristian Rimoni
I think people should read this book because it can be applied to teens of any generation because it deals with important issues such a low self esteem and loneliness. If I could ask the author a question it would be what his inspiration for the book was. I think it is too show the perspective a youth's search for one's self. I can relate to book because I have also gone on an adventure where I did not know what to expect. What surprised me about this book is the plot twists and the fact that I...more
Sam is a kid who has tourettes syndrome, he got it from his father who died when he was a young boy. Hes looked on as a freak, by the kids at school, and his abusive step-father. No one likes to feel different, and he hates his dad for giving him this disease. But then he drives acoss the country with a beautiful girl he just met, looking at all the great things his dad built. I really liked this book because it was relatable. Like i said no one likes to feel different, Sam is a very likable, fu...more
Amber Graham
This book is about a about a teenager named Sam Carrier and he has Tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s causes people to move involuntarily and even may cause people to blurt out things like swear words. He has been bullied because of his tics and blurting out he and has been called twitch and several other names. Sam does not like his step dad Old Bill because he will judge Sam without any restriction. Bill has told him lies about his dad. One of the lies he told Sam was how his dad had died. Sam go...more
Xavier Neal
Great read if…you enjoy YA novels, books about discovering who you are, living with a disease, finding love in strange situations, estranged families, questioning yourself, road trips, experiencing life in a new light, new beginnings, and a well deserved/well enjoyed HEA!

Side Note: Jonathan himself shares TS just like the main character and his understanding of living with it and making people understand it for what it truly is, shows! Jonathan writes smoothly making this an enjoyable and easy r...more
This is the first book that I have read with a main character who has Tourettes and it was interesting for that reason. The novel didn't really talk about the symptoms very much/enough so it was easy to forget that he had it at all or that it would cause so many problems. There were also some times when it was difficult to suspend disbelief (I mean it is a realistic fiction book after all, how much disbelief should we be expected to suspend). For example, the main character was never accepted by...more
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Choice Book 4 1 1 Mar 19, 2014 08:54AM  
Opinion's on this book? 4 7 Jul 14, 2013 03:36PM  
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I had the perfect life.

I was the grade-school star and the teacher’s pet. The world revolved around me and I suspected it always would. If you ask most people about their life, they don’t begin with fifth grade. But that was a good year.

Illness changed that. I retreated into a shell and escaped into words. Writing a story sucked the pain out of me, at least for a while. That’s when I learned to “f...more
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