Teens will enjoy tale by Minnesotan Jonathan Friesen, an author ‘who wants to make God smile’

March 17, 2011

Bobz Book Reviews

The headstones in the family cemetery reveal a threatening fact to the young hero of “The Last Martin”: Lots of members of the Boyle family have been named Martin, but the birth years on the grave markers of one Martin Boyle always correspond to the death year of another. When one Martin Boyle is born, the previous one dies.

For the current Martin Boyle that’s a problem. His aunt is expecting, the baby is a boy, and family tradition dictates he be named, you guessed it.

Follow the quick-paced struggles of author Jonathan Friesen’s lead character as he tries to overcome what seems to be the family curse, that there can be only one Martin Boyle.

A writer who lives in Mora, Minn., Friesen sets his story in the Twin Cities, and he brings a bit of Minnesota history into a well-crafted plot. But as a practicing Christian, Friesen told me he always prays before he begins writing.

Responding to my e-mailed question about his faith life, Friesen said he attends a Baptist church. And here’s what he answered when asked why he prays before writing: “The thought of God smiling over me when I write provides both confidence and encouragement. I want to know that He is not only pleased that I am exercising the gift He gave me, but that He is pleased with the content of what I write. I want to make Him smile.”

“The Last Martin” is chock full of wacky characters readers of this Zonderkidz paperback will enjoy. The youngsters in the Boyle family seem to be the only normal folks around. They’ve got the usual growing-up fears and issues, plus a few more — like being cursed to die an early death.

Can the latest Martin Boyle deal with an over-bearing, germaphobic mother, a workaholic father, a crush that’s going badly AND end the curse that’s about to make his life short and not so sweet?

It’s fun, easy read for the 16-and-under crowd. — bz

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 40-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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