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5.0 1
by Jonathan Friesen

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Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows.

And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen.


Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows.

And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town.

When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known—including his growing relationship with Stormi herself.

Advance praise:

“Friesen's story unfolds with so much intrigue, swells with so much heart, I had to keep reading. And the writing? Beautiful!”

—Jay Asher, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Thirteen Reasons Why

“As someone with Tourette Syndrome, I grew up with a condition that others did not understand. It affected the way I was viewed and the way I viewed myself. I applaud Jonathan Friesen for telling a story about overcoming such a challenge in Unfolding. Hopefully, this will inspire others growing up with such conditions as well as help everyone else better understand what is involved.”

—Tim Howard, former US national team goaltender and current goalkeeper for the Colorado Rapids

Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he's an outcast and she's the most perfect girl he knows. And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah's physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town. When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known -- including his growing relationship with Stormi herself. 'Unfolding' by author Jonathan Friesen is a consistently compelling novel from beginning to end and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to highschool and community library YA Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that 'Unfolding' is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—A new title from the Schneider Award—winning author of Jerk, California. Jonah Everett's life changed forever the day Stormi literally dropped from the sky during a tornado. They were only babies then, but in each of the 17 years that followed, Jonah fell more in love with Stormi. They had a deep connection; Stormi saw Jonah for his true, whole self, not just as someone who has scoliosis and experiences seizures. After Stormi foretells an accident and a girl dies as a result, the entire town turns against her. But what is it that everyone is actually afraid of? Set in a dusty Oklahoma town, Friesen's latest title is overflowing with atmosphere and mysteries. There is a prison with only one prisoner, who has been there forever, and no one will discuss either him or his crime. There is a strange town council, The Circle, which wields a great deal of power. There is a cult, truly in the middle of nowhere, with ties to the town, and its members are willing to kill to keep a secret. The problem is, with a conspiracy around every corner, readers will likely find themselves lost before ever reaching the conclusion. What's meant to be ominous often comes across as odd, and many questions are never answered. VERDICT An overstuffed plot makes this novel a low-priority purchase that most libraries can skip.—Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH
Kirkus Reviews
An awkward 18-year-old and his enigmatic crush discover that their town hides a terrible secret. Gullary, Oklahoma, a former mining town that is now dominated by a maximum security prison and ruled by a group of vigilantes called the Circle, has always been prone to violent storms. White narrator Jonah, afflicted with scoliosis and epilepsy (aka "Old Rickety"), is more preoccupied with Stormi, a "free and wild" spirit with a healing touch and psychic powers, than storms. Wandering in and out of occasionally florid flashbacks peppered with fake Latin, self-deprecating humor, and self-pity, Jonah recounts the awkward evolution of his friendship with Stormi and his misadventures with Old Rickety and his twisted spine. When Stormi predicts a tragic accident and comes under the Circle's suspicion, she and Jonah flee Gullary, learning its dark secret along the way. Someoneor somethingwants justice, and they're its instruments. Several plot points pass in a whirlwind of explanations, losing some emotional impact. Tired tropes, such as epilepsy as a harbinger of evil spirits, abound. However, when the dust settles, some strong character development remains. The biblical, ominous atmosphere of Gullary provides a vivid backdrop for Jonah's and Stormi's feelings of longing and alienation, which are further explored through occasionally poignant banter and conflicted family relationships. The almost-romance is engaging. A flawed but darkly atmospheric read. (Fiction. 13-18)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
15 - 18 Years

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Meet the Author

Jonathan Friesen is an author, speaker, and youth writing coach from Mora, Minnesota. His first young adult novel, Jerk, California, received the ALA Schneider Award. When he’s not writing, speaking at schools, or teaching, Jonathan loves to travel and hang out with his wife and three kids.

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Unfolding 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
VJoyPalmer 13 days ago
Wow. Just wow. This book kept me up very, very late. And I have a baby. Staying up all night reading is not a luxury I can afford to take. However, I could not stop reading Unfolding! Ok, so this is not a light, easy-breezy story. This is an intense, edge of your seat, flinching due to every small noise kind of story. But what do you expect with a small town riddled with secrets and a secret society and...I'd better not say that part. ;) The writing voice is different, yet so unique. And I absolutely adored Jonah! His perspective and voice would have been make or break it to the story. Jonah sounded like a real dude. ;) Also, speaking as someone who's had a lot of involvement with disable adults, I found his feelings regarding his disabilities to be realistic based on what I've seen. However, I am by no means an expert. Fans of paranormal, mysterious, secret society YA and/or of Ted Dekker will love Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen. Seriously. You will want to buy this book immediately. What are you waiting for? I received a copy of Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen published by Blink from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.
Nicnac63 14 days ago
"One week after the storm, Ma planted a cottonwood out front of our trailer. She later explained it as an act of defiance. Ma was sinking roots, declaring that no tornado could dislodge our family from Green Country, the eastern wedge of Oklahoma infiltrated by the Ozark’s mountainous tentacles." ~First lines of Chapter 1. I have mixed feelings about Unfolding, by Jonathan Friesen. In many ways I loved the story. It’s not my go-to genre, and actually I’ve read very little few YA books, but I’m intrigued by the storyline. And in other ways, I’m left with uncertainties. I won’t recount the storyline (which can be read in the blurb.) Instead, I will share what I enjoyed most, and things that puzzled me. Things I enjoyed: 1. I love that the story is told in a first-person narrative. It allows the reader to sink into the main character and see the world through his eyes. 2. I love the main character is male. I read a lot of women’s fiction, so it’s new and refreshing to see things through a male perspective. Jonah is a likeable, believable, and sympathetic character. I truly cared about his plight and inner turmoil—particularly concerning his feelings for his friend, Stormi. 3. The townsfolk (especially Jonah, Stormi, Tres, and Arthur) are memorable, and the town of Gullery, Oklahoma and its underlying secrets, give the story a unique and shadowy feel. 4. I enjoyed the slight paranormal aspect. It isn’t overpowering, but is in it just enough to add some oomph. 5. I am so pleased Jonah’s epilepsy is front and center of this story. It gives him a believable hardship that he deals with through inner-strength and acceptance. Things I’m a tad unsettled about: 1. I have to be honest, in saying that there are parts of this story I don’t fully understand. There are also a couple of instances I didn’t find authentic. Such as the way the teens treated or talked to their parents. In these (few) instances, I was taken out of the moment. 2. The ending is what I’m most unsure of. It is both satisfying and unsettling. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. Still, I recommend this story for those who normally read YA, because it carries many of the aspects you’ll expect out of this genre. "For forty bucks, I’d tell him I wet the bed until twelve years old, and that I spent hours gawking at photos of Stormi. I’d name every drunk in town, and whisper the places they go when the moon is full. For a tip, any tip, I’d spill all of Gullary’s secrets. But I couldn’t tell him what was behind the red door." ~Excerpt from Chapter 1. I struggled on how to rate this book, back-and-forth between 3.5 and 4 stars. Ultimately, the higher rating won out. Unfolding is weird and wonderful, surprising and unsettling. It’s an intriguing tale of mystery, faith, and redemption. An odd read, with truly unforgettable characters. I received a complimentary copy of this book.
BuckeyeAngel 19 days ago
This tornado traveled over five hundred miles with a fury rarely seen previously and the tornado gently stole a little girl before pulling back up into the sky. Stormi isn’t your normal teenage girl she has a talent to see future events. Gullery is a small town that doesn’t even have a police force only The circle- an unconventional justice system made up of men including Jonah’s dad. The men consider themselves responsible for the town and can pass judgement on the people of the town. Everybody knows everybody and everything in Gullery. It’s a weird little town in Oklahoma which is proven as more and more of it’s secrets are revealed. Jonah is a deformed boy because of the severe case he has of scoliosis and he also has epilepsy. Jonah has a rough life as he is bullied by classmates and treated like he is lacking by his parents and other adults. His only relief is his close friendship with Stormi who he secretly is crushing on. But she can't acknowledge Jonah’s deeper feelings for her. Stormi had been dropped next store in his neighbor's yard by a tornado. That same tornado destroyed the supermax prison in town that gave a lot of jobs to the townspeople. The prison now only employs one person and that is Jonah and there is only one prisoner left in the prison and Jonah doesn’t even know her crime but knows it is linked to the town’s darkest secret he basically feeds her. And also give tours through the tornado museum and prison if anyone wants them. Then Stormi and Jonah are eighteen and there is an attraction between them. The town had began as a mining town but then there was too many accidents and sinkholes that forced the mines to be closed. Then the prison was built. Jonah was suppose to have surgery on his back to straighten it and Stormi warned him not to go but he and his dad went anyway to group therapy for kids like Jonah set up to have the surgery. Jonah has his first seizure there and then the seizures and his back get steadily worse. Strange things start to happen happen in town and then Stormi makes a warning that is followed by one of her classmates dying and people start to turn on Stormi and want to kill her. Stormi asks Jonah for help and it may risk his health, job, relationship with his father,possibly even his life. Then the couple go on the run and start to discover secrets the town has been hiding for years. AS the town secrets come out Stormi learns things about her past. When Jonah's family atones for their sins Jonah’s seizures stop. I had mixed feelings about this story. I had a BIG problem that the story made it look that Jonah’s epilepsy was from the bad doings of his family. My husband died young and had epilepsy and my teenage son also has it and I don’t believe it was any kind of punishment for anyone doing bad and evil things!!!!! That really made me angry. But beside that this is a different kind of story and I liked it. It was a quick read. It also had mystery and adventures in it. It did drag at times and i had some trouble following the story. A lot of things were also left unexplained. I would ask the author if he does write another book including a condition or disease not to make the cause evil spirits or a sort of punishment. People are affected but what their loved ones have and are very protective and can be offended in cases such as this.
Rosemary-Standeven 20 days ago
This book grabs your attention right from the start with wonderful language and a unique set-up: “The tornadoes travelled over five hundred miles. They teased and jabbed their twisty fingers toward the earth, only to rear back and punch through the green with a fury rarely seen previous, and only once since. And on one such strike, heaven—or hell, depending which side you’re on—opened its fist and gently stole a child before pulling back up into the angry sky”. Although no priests or gods make an appearance, there are religious (especially Old Testament) references aplenty, and one of the book’s main themes is atonement for past sins. When I read the synopsis, I was expecting a straightforward teenage love story with a side-line on the problems of being a disabled teenager. You definitely get those themes (which are brilliantly portrayed), but the love story is far from straightforward. For a start, the girl, Stormi, is anything but normal, with her talent for precognition and her miraculous arrival. And Gullary – which a first glance seems like any dust-bowl Oklahoma hick town – just gets weirder and weirder with its secrets being gradually revealed. So “straightforward” is the least applicable adjective. The male hero, Jonah, is a very sympathetic character, who due to his deformity and epilepsy, has had a really rough time in life – bullied by classmates and treated as somehow deficient by his parents and other adults. His physical difficulties are so realistically depicted, that my own (mildly) twisted back ached in empathy. His only relief (but also frustration) comes from his friendship with the beautiful Stormi, who is unable to acknowledge Jonah’s love for her. There are other wonderful characters, such as Arthur – who is surely on the spectrum – and the mysterious Tres. There are no really evil characters – just many who are unpleasant. Some redeem themselves, and others remain beyond redemption as they remain convinced that the end has justified the means, and that their actions were needful and not sinful. The story is an emotional one, that raises questions about guilt and punishment for sins, about the compulsion of the greater good, and what constitutes friendship and love. Not a quick nor easy read, but one that is definitely worth it. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review