By Gail Anderson
Monticello Diversity Committee
The Third Annual Monticello Book Read at the Monticello High School media center Thursday night will feature Minnesota author Jonathan Friesen.
Friesen will speak about the themes in his book “Jerk, California,” the book Monticello Diversity Committee chose for its community read this year. The book read is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. People who have not read the book are welcome to attend.
Friesen’s presentation will be followed by discussion groups facilitated by Monticello high school students who have been prepared to lead book-related conversations. Friesen will sign books after the discussion groups meet.
Friesen, who has Tourette’s syndrome, has written a compelling and high-adventure novel about a teenager who also has Tourette’s syndrome growing up differently and being bullied relentlessly. Over time and through high suspense action, the character named Sam discovers new information about his deceased father and clues to his own identity.
“Do you see me and do you like me?” Friesen says that these are the two most common questions about which most people have uncertainty.
Sam also learns new and better ways to cope. The Monticello Book Read is presented by the Monticello Diversity Committee, which encourages communities and persons of diversity to get to know each other and to be less fearful and more understanding of each other.
“Jerk, California” is the first of seven books Friesen has written. He has taught school and now writes and speaks full-time. Friesen lives with his wife and three children on a farm in rural Minnesota.
While his books are oriented toward a young adult perspective, they contain universal themes which touch ages and interests of all persons. Friesen has toured nationally, visiting schools, organizations and universities to present his work. He was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Minnesota Mental Health Alliance for Children and Teens with Mental Health Needs.
Friesen will spend time at both the Monticello High School and Middle School during the day, consulting with teachers and students and speaking to them about issues related to respect that affect students who often get singled out and treated disrespectfully.
The Monticello Diversity Committee is a self-chosen group of persons who serve as school and county personnel, probation officers, local businesspeople, church members, and community citizens.
For more information about the group, call Gail Anderson at 763-295-5426. This event is being supported by donations from Monticello Friends of the Library, Rotary, Women of Today, Monticello Lions and Cargill Kitchen Solutions.