Jerk, California: Jonathan Friesen

Jerk, California is about a boy in Minnesota with Tourrette’s syndrome. And of course his stepdad loved him and all was great until he developed his “disease” and then Bill realized that Sam won’t be able to take over the concrete business. And suddenly Sam becomes a monster.

Anyway, there’s a lot of self-loathing in this book. I’m telling you, a lot. But there’s a lot of other here, as well. Sam, whose given name is actually Jack [somethingorother but super Irish] ends up working for a guy the townspeople refer to as The Coot. Some affectionately, others not so much. You know how it goes in small towns. But he’s actually a pretty cool guy. And there’s, of course, a girl involved.

So after not very long at all, George (the Coot) dies of a heart attack right in front of Jack. And then Jack inherits ALL of George’s stuff. Land, house, everything.

George sends Jack on a trip across the country to a location in California called Jerk with several stops along the way and directions to stay a couple of days in each place. Jack’s dad built or refurbished windmills. That was kind of his thing.


I don’t know. I really liked this book when I read it at the time, but like, thinking back on it, I’m kind of over it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s really interesting, largely because of Jack’s struggle with identity and self-confidence and self-loathing and this girl who is totally… bipolar. Not really, just pregnant (early in). Long story. Anyway. It WAS interesting. But… meh. I don’t know. Looking back I just don’t…. like… feel all that strongly about it now.  I kind of did at the time. If you read the last blog post I did about Will Grayson, Will Grayson, before I get into the novel I have this HUGE spiel about little things that change your life and whatever, and this one kind of did that at the time. But… I dunno. Maybe now that I’m here it’s not such a big deal? I don’t know how to explain it.


It’s not a long read, or a difficult read. I almost cried a few times. I laughed quite a bit. I hated people frequently. It’s a moving book, at least. Maybe I was just particularly movable at the time. No idea. But I liked it.  I give it probs 3.5 stars? Maybe? I dunno. 3 just doesn’t seem right but 4 almost seems too much. So. There you are.


The other thing that was kind of annoying about this book was the way that Friesen portrays the Minnesota accent. Now, I’m from this area with this accent, and I can tell you for darn sure that the vast majority of people here don’t talk that way. We do have an accent, but it isn’t as obvious or overt as the author makes it seem like it must be. Just a side note.


Until next time,



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