Scott's Reviews > Jerk, California

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen
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's review
May 15, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: first-half-of-2009, older-teens, young-adult-books, younger-teens
Read in May, 2009

The first chapter of this book is crap. Really cheesy and doofy. But it's only a page and a half. And then it gets better, a lot better. And a lot more interesting. Friesen brings us a honest look at a disease most of us don't know that much about. His character doesn't have much of a future to look forward to, and he spends a lot of time blaming that on his past and his disease. Sam is a very real and heartbreaking character, infused with Friesen's own personal knowledge of Tourette's. Sam's initial journey, growing up, falling in love, dealing with the evils of teenagers who don't accept difference very well, is super-relateable. I want to follow his journey. And Friesen has a gift for realistic, if slightly jerky (no pun intended) dialogue.
Then Jack comes along, the second half of the book. And for some reason, even though I should care more, I found myself caring less and less about his journey of self-discovery. Maybe because it was no longer real, instead it became a cookie-cutter Hallmark movie. I knew what would happen and it became a cycle of Jack makes Naomi mad she runs away, Naomi makes Jack mad he runs away. But they never really grow up beyond that. So the end, when they are suddenly grown up, doesn't make sense, because Friesen seems to have forgotten to let them learn the lessons they have somehow learned by the end of the book.
So . . . did I like this book? Yes, mostly. But I think it is ultimately unsatisfying because of the second half, where the bulk of this character's journey should and seems to be taking place, but never actually does.

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Reading Progress

05/11/2009 page 74
22.63% "Cheesy first chapter, but it has settled into a very interesting story. I love the dialogue."

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