From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Sam Carrier's bitter, abusive stepfather, Old Bill, is ashamed of the boy's Tourette's Syndrome, and makes the teen feel that shame at every turn. He also makes Sam's life a misery by constantly telling him that his father was a no-good deserter. Upon his high school graduation, Sam meets George, a friend of his long-dead father, who attempts to undo the harm that Old Bill has done over the years. Sam (whose real name turns out to be Jack) embarks on a cross-country road trip to discover his roots, his identity, and his love for Naomi, who tags along, bringing some unexpected baggage. The story is compelling, especially Sam/Jack's quest for a deeper understanding of himself through his father's legacy. Along the way, he stays in the homes of his father's old friends and puts the pieces of his parents' life together. There is an abundance of inner dialogue, so much that readers may have trouble distinguishing between what Sam thinks, tells himself, or says to others. As soon as he meets George and his period of discovery begins, the book is a quick read, and the excitement of his journey will keep most readers turning the pages to see what's around the bend.—Nora G. Murphy, Los Angeles Academy Middle School
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In rural Wisconsin, Sam, a high-school student with Tourette syndrome, is alienated from his peers and rejected by his stepfather, and he has trouble getting close to lovely, kind Naomi. After graduation, his stepfather kicks him out of the house, and he accepts a job and lodging from another outcast, who knew Sam’s late father and dispels some of Sam’s misconceptions about his dad. Then, after more shake-ups at home, Sam embarks on a road trip with Naomi to California, hunting windmills and answers left by Sam’s dad along the way. Sam and his story are quixotic in the best possible way: he is a good-hearted dreamer trying to do right by his dulcinea. Debut author Friesen has Tourette syndrome, and he brings complexity and nuance to Sam’s struggle for understanding and self-acceptance. The pacing is leisurely, but like any good road story, there are enough corners and bends to keep readers eagerly anticipating what lies ahead at the journey’s end. Grades 10-12. --Heather Booth