National author Jonathan Friesen brings his message of acceptance to the Greater Grand Rapids area

Jonathan Friesen

Teens need messy books, according to author Jonathan Friesen.


“Messy books raise questions, without providing spoon-fed solutions,” Friesen wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News. “Messy books mimic life with their messy characters who muddle and fail — sometimes with finality.”


In reality, Friesen goes on to say, that “life simply unfolds. One moment we ride a good wave, and the next we are swept under.” Friesen knows this first hand since from adolescents, he has had to deal with Tourette syndrome, panic attacks and epilepsy.


So Friesen’s writes messy books, which is OK because “messy stories are good medicine” and they also remind us that we are not alone in what we what feel and deal with, according to Friesen.


Friesen, who is an international speaker, comes to Grand Rapids this month making a stop at the Barnes & Noble at Woodland Mall March 10. He scheduled to speak at 7 p.m.


Friesen has used his Tourette syndrome and epilepsy as a motivating force in his stories. His books, which include Jerk, California, The Last Martin, Aquifer, and Both of Me, give readers the opportunity to see life through the eyes of someone who is in some way disabled and struggling to be accepted and appreciated in their community. All of Jonathan’s books, which have earned him The American Library Association’s 2009 Schneider Award for Best Book for Teens and the Editor’s Choice Award, feature a lead character or protagonist with a physical or mental health condition.


His latest release, “Unfolding,” is a magical story of a child “dropped from the the Oklahoma sky” during a tornado. Her name is Stormi and she is the most perfect girl the narrator, Jonah, has ever met. Jonah has scoliosis and is debilitated by epileptic seizures, which he calls Old Rickety. And despite warnings from her grandfather, Stormi becomes Jonahs’s best friend and the two seek out the town’s biggest secret.


Friesen is the keynote speaker for the annual Michigan Reading Association Conference and a regular speaker at large and small events worldwide. He seeks to motivate and inspire young adult readers and writers through his personal story and message of accepting others for who they are, regardless of differences or disabilities.