Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Son, Tourette's and the *Review* of Jerk, California

Twitch, Jerk, Freak
Sam Carrier has been called them all. Because of his Tourette Syndrome, Sam is in near constant motion with tics and twitches and verbal outbursts. So, of course, high school is nothing but torment. Forget friends; forget even hoping that beautiful, perfect Naomi will look his way. And home isn't much better with his domineering stepfather reminding him that the only person who was more useless than Sam was his dead father, James. But then an unexpected turn of events unearths the truth about his father. And suddenly Sam doesn't know who he is, or even where he'll go next. What he does know is that the only girl in the world who can make him happy and nervous all at the same time is everywhere he turns and he'd give anything to just be still.
Zachary: Jerk, California was a book that I could somewhat relate to. Even though the character had Tourette's worse then me I still know how he felt. I liked all the turn of events, the struggles he faced every day, and some of the funniness of the book. It was a very good book until the ending which ticked me off. The ending didn't fulfill my wishes for the characters. My favorite part of the book was when Jack moved in with Coot. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who likes adventure books, and death, and cats, and butter.
Angie: I had to chuckle at Zach's last rambling line. He would have kept going had I not laughed at him! First, I have to explain how we came to read this book that I had never heard of before. We were in the library last week and Zach was struggling to find a book that looked interesting to him. I was walking up and down the rows trying to help him pick one out when up ahead I saw a red book hanging half off the shelf. I walked ahead to push it back in so it wouldn't fall when the title caught my eye- Jerk, California. I pulled it off the shelf instead and when I read the inside front cover I knew I had the book. Zachary my 14 year-old son has Tourette Syndrome. I knew a book about a character that also had Tourette's would interest him. I was right. After reading it in a day and a half he insisted I read it as well. I looked at my own large stack of books on the coffee table that I was itching to read, looked back at my son and immediately said yes.
Zach read this book faster then I did- and liked it more. But I could relate to it as well. I could see some of the motions that Sam/Jack had were the same ones I saw in my son. I could understand how someone could hate the disease so much, but I definitely could not relate to the stepfather who hated the person because of the disease. Tourette's tics and vocal bursts are not something that can be controlled. I would never look upon my son with anger or embarassment like Old Bill. Zach's twitches and little noises are a part of who he is and I love him all the more because of them.
The author, Jonathan Friesen, lives in Minnesota and this is where the book is set. Jonathan also has Tourette's and is available for speaking at schools or groups about a number of topics, including A Life with Tourette Syndrome, Journaling, and several on writing. You can contact him at .