Saturday 6 May 2023

Saint Jerk - D.J. Dixon

Saint Jerk
ISBN 9798368061702

This is an excellent debut novel. My son and I read it together. He is 15 and had his confirmation a few years ago. He currently goes to a Catholic High School and has to so 40 Community Service hours before graduation, so he could relate to the story, both from a confirmation prep and community service work. For the most part my son read to me, occasionally I finished a chapter if he had completed his reading time for the day, and once we used adaptive technology to listen while out running errands. We both loved the story and a few times we read twice his minimum in a day to see what would happen next. And this is the greatest complement I can give this book. The description of the story states:

“Holy Smokes - Saint Jerk is Amazing!
Funny. Edgy. Uplifting. Catholic.

Jack knew what was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier to face. As the new school year started at St. Mary’s, his eighth-grade class was assigned to complete twenty hours of community service by the end of the semester. Bungling his way from one adventure to the next, Jack hilariously tells the tales of his deeds gone heroically right and horrifically wrong. Along the way, he learns unexpected lessons about his faith and its meaning in his life. Most importantly, he’ll realize that the person he becomes is determined by the choices he makes. And boy, does he make some bad ones…

As provocative as it is hysterical, Saint Jerk is a powerful response to a broken culture, a story that both entertains and arms young Christians with confidence in the truth of their faith in the face of a secular society. It’s an invitation to readers of all ages to consider the most important questions that have ever been posed by mankind, to recognize that the answers have already been provided, and to reflect on the consequences of that truth in their lives.”

And the chapters in the story are:

 1. Let’s Get Ready to Grumble 
 2. Service Error 
 3. Truth and Consequences 
 4. Custodiots 
 5. Pope Me the First 
 6. Aw-Dumb Leaves 
 7. Canonized 
 8. Coffee Boy 
 9. Hate and That Other Thing 
10. Turkeys and the Food They Serve 
11. Road Rules 
12. Palm Tuesday 
13. Tales from the Project 
14. Reconciliation 
15. It’s Over 
Author’s Note

There were times we both laughed out loud while reading this story together. Jack’s adventures are true and down to earth. This story is like Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin Family stories in that they are set in real time, real life. Jack and his classmates are very relatable. Many of the students in the story you will recognize in your own friends and family or your children’s friends and schoolmates. Father Drew is very well written and relatable. In the story we are informed that:

“The “Saints in Service” project was a tradition at St. Mary’s. It was required as part of religion class for eighth graders for at least as long as I was a student there. Even when I was little, if I ever saw a kid from that year’s class raking leaves or shoveling snow at a house I knew wasn’t his, it would be a pretty good guess that he was doing it do earn hours for the Saints project, as everyone called it for short.”

The characters are well written, Jake and his circle of friends, the other grade 8 boys group. And the other students, teachers and adults in the story are all well-crafted. The pace is great. Both my son and I loved the story. And we would happily pick up another story featuring Jack, or even Nickie’s story, of anything else he published. A great read for the young and young at heart. This is an excellent Catholic Middle Grade or young adult story. It is a book we can easily recommend. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

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