Friday, March 25, 2011

There's always a Martin. Only one Martin.

Martin Boyle already has plenty to worry about. His germaphobic mother keeps him home from school if she hears so much as a sneeze, and his father is always off somewhere reenacting old war battles. Julia, the most beautiful girl in school, won't even speak to Martin, and the gym teacher is officially out to get him. Which is why Martin really doesn't need this curse hanging over his head.

On a trip to the family cemetery, Martin wanders among the tombstones of his ancestors and discovers a disturbing pattern: when one Martin is born, the previous Martin dies. And---just his luck---Martin's aunt is about to give birth to a baby boy, who will, according to tradition, be named Martin. Martin must find a way to break the curse, but every clue seems to lead to a dead end. And time is running out.

Watch the trailer:

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Jerk, California" Joins The Battle of the Books!

High school students from across the state of Iowa are going to war—a war of words that is. They are preparing to participate in the Iowa High School Battle of the Books.

Here's how it works: First the students form teams of 4-6 people currently in grades 9-12. A school may have more than one team. They are coached by an adult (librarian, teacher, or parent). Then comes the fun part—they get to read some really great books.

This year one of the books on the reading list which includes the entire state of Iowa, is Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen. Jerk, California was included by virtue of being chosen as the winner of the 2008 American Library Association Schneider Family Award. According to the ALA website “The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

We are thrilled that “Jerk, California” was chosen and also that so many young people will have the opportunity to read this awesome book.

Well done, Jonathan.
Hope “Jerk” kicks some book booty!

To learn more about the Iowa High School Battle of the Books visit:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hear Jonathan Speak--His Winter/Spring Schedule

 Check to see if your school or communtiy is included.

Jan 24, 2011
Anoka Correctional
Anoka, Minnesota
Staff Event

Jan 26, 2011
Anoka Correctional
Student Event

Feb 3, 2011
Kimball High School
Kimball, MN
School Visit

Feb 8, 2011
Springfield High School
Spingfield, IL
School Visit

Feb 9, 2011
Downers Grove High
Chicago, IL
School Visit

Feb 10, 2011
Peoria High Schools and Public Library
Peoria, IL
Author visit, Book Signing, Meet & Greet

Feb 24, 2011
St. Michael School
St. Michael, MN
School Visit

Feb 26, 2011
Sauk Center, HS
All Day

March 2, 2011
Speaker-Rivier College
New Hampshire
Day Long

March 16, 2011
Concordia College, MN
11:45 am

March 24-25, 2011
E/BD Conference KEYNOTE
Greensburg, IN
All Day

March 31, 2011
Pacer Event
All Welcome!

April 7, 2011
Windom/Luther/High School Event
Windom Area, MN

April 11, 2011
Bethel University
Campus Visit/Evening event
St. Paul, MN

April 14, 2011
Isle Public Library
Isle, MN
Evening Author Visit

April 15-16, 2011
Duluth, MN

April 21, 2011
Rockford High School
Rockford, MN
Author Visit

May 6, 2011
St. Thomas (Minneapolis)
Author Visit

May 11-12, 2011
Craig High School
Janesville High School
Author visits

July 29-30, 2011
Miracle Lodge

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hear Jonathan LIve On Tuesday, October 19, 7 PM, CT

Tune in to the new radio call-in show, "Cec and Me", this Tuesday, October 19 to hear Jonathan Friesen share about his books, his work, and his life with mentor, Cecil Murphey and friend, Twila Belk.

"Cec" is best-selling author Cecil Murphey,(90 Minutes in Heaven). Humorist and author Twila Belk is the other half of this new online radio chat fest. They will be talking to Jonathan, taking calls and questions for him and even giving away books to some callers. Mark your calendar today!

Here's the link, just click--

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jonathan Friesen Shares His Inspiration for RUSH*

*Originally published on the Knight Agency Blog

There was this guy in my church during my high school years. He was a nut. Not really, but he seemed to tilt toward crazy. A jittery man with jittery hands. He took a bunch of us teens rock-climbing trip. (Looking back, a huge lapse in parental responsibility.) The cliffs weren’t insane high, maybe one hundred feet, which only meant a shorter fall to our deaths.

Which, of course, was impossible. We had harnesses and straps and ropes and carabineers connecting us to this world—shoot, we couldn’t have fallen if we tried.

After a day of climbing, it was our guide’s turn (pay attention, ‘cause this is where the nut assessment comes into my memory of this man). Jittery walked to the edge of the cliff, the straight-down cliff, the smooth-no-finger-hold cliff, and vanished over the edge.

Spiderman. That’s what he was. He free climbed up and down and across. His fingertips found fissures and rough spots and he stuck like glue, scampered across that rock face.

I could barely force myself to edge. But I had to watch this spectacle. Finally, he crawled back over the lip into the land of the living. He didn’t fall on the ground and kiss it. He smiled and pushed us back from the edge. “You’re all too close.” All he said. His hand jitter was gone. He sounded at peace.

This most terrifying experience changed him, cleared him, and from the looks of things, he felt normal.

So I sit behind a computer dreaming up stories and I remember how death chased the jitters from a crazy man, and the idea for RUSH comes. Maybe he wasn’t so crazy. Maybe it’s me, whose idea of extreme sport is chasing my neighbor’s milk cows. Maybe I’m the nutty one.

Writing RUSH was my own trip into the world of the crazed. Into a place where safe feels like death and death feels like life.

And hey, I lived to tell about it!


Monday, September 13, 2010

From the Menasha Library's KidLit Blog

The author of Jerk, California (winner of the Schneider Family Book Award) returns with another great read.

The only thing that will clear the clouds from Jake’s head is risking his life. He jumps off of waterfalls, takes risky rides on his dirtbike, climbs the town watertower, and scales rock walls. His father and older brother don’t understand what he does at all. His father basically owns their town and his perfect brother is following in his footsteps as a firefighter, something that holds no appeal for Jake. One thing with appeal is his best friend Salome, but he can never let it become anything more than just friends, because he hurts anything he gets close to and he can’t do that to her. When Jake’s older brother loses his best friend and quits the firefighters, Jake is offered a place on a crew that rappels into wildfires. It is a crew with a record of young firefighters dying. Jake isn’t worried, this suits his thrill-seeking nature just fine, but Salome refuses to stand by and watch him die. He now has to choose between his friend and the rush.

My short summary above just scratches the surface of this novel. It is a novel of depression and trying anything to feel clarity and connection. It is a novel of family, exploring the tension-filled relationship between brothers as well as fathers and sons. It is a novel of love, of taking that final step and feeling a different kind of clarity and rush. It is a novel of bravery, of honor, of betrayal. It is a novel that reads at breakneck pace, yet never loses touch with the importance of character and setting.

Jake is a great character in the novel, exploring the reason why people take large risks. He is a tormented soul, unable to form connections with those he loves, able only to bond with the thrills. Yet at the same time, he has friends who love him, despite the ways he pushes them away. The novel is beautifully written, exploring the danger and power of fire, which is used as a perfect metaphor for Jake and his own destructive nature.

A novel that will appeal to a broad range of readers, from those who are thrill seekers themselves and want a great action-filled read to those who are interested in a well-drawn character facing incredible odds.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Another 5 star review from Amazon.

August 17, 2010

By Yiddishkeit is me (Amazon reviewer)

This book took me out of my seat into the story. I can't say enough about this book. It made me so interested that I couldn't stop reading! I read it practically for a day straight and read it all in like a day and a half--which is something that I rarely do. This was absolutely amazing and I wish Friesen would write more books. I'm going out to get "Jerk, California" in half an hour because im still going crazy over how amazing Rush was. Such a perfect book.