Cover Image: Surrender Your Sons

Surrender Your Sons

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Member Reviews

oh yessssss this book is the one!!! I have had the pleasure and feel very grateful to have been able to read this absolutely amazing novel early and I can not tell you how excited I am for surrender your sons to be released so everyone can experience this stunning Novel,One of my favs of the year I must add too. 

This novel I feel will impact so many people and will become one that will be read for years to come and be a really important read that should be read by EVERYONE!!!
Adam Sass has created a one of the kind novel that is beautifully tragic and delves really deep into some really tough topics. side note be sure to check the CW for this one as this one doesn't hold back on how dark it goes. Its written so well and just has you clinging on to your seat and gets you entranced and need to know what twist and turns come next.

This novel is a story of fighting back, having power and showing to never give up!!! wether that's for something you believe in, for fighting what's right and most of all for fighting against people who try and make you try and be the person your not but you know what we say to that...a very important two words :)

everyone please please when this arrives in bookstores, online, independent bookstores go and buy this book!!! I cant express enough the importance of this novel.
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❊ a gripping thriller that captivates you, a triggering read with the harsh reality of conversion camps, and a narrative voice that amplifies important, devastating, and heartbreaking themes through a great prose. ❊

➼ raw, unfiltered, harsh reality of a conservative parent, religious scrutiny, and the possibility of someone loved sending you miles away to a camp that guarantees to convert queers, is unravelled unflinchingly in this novel—leaving you shaken at times.

➼ a gay teen representation appreciated by majority of ownvoices readers so worth positively highlighting, and the broader aim of depicting LGBTQ+ characters fighting the overestimated homophobes who tried to shackle the queer is needed in YA stories.

➼ even in the midst of absolute horror, the growing solidarity flourishes into romantic and platonic relationships to ultimately speak the truth of emerging from darkness through the strength of love, friendship, and shared identity.

➼ excellent writing but the pacing sometimes falters, considering the entire story is set in a very short time span, and there exists the unintentional under-representation of the BIPOC side characters who contributed through way more effort but the story overpowers them by the white boy who conveniently saves everyone in a single day.
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Ultimately, I feel like this book had more potential.
I really liked this book for its queerness, and the dangers that come with it. The way Connor's mom acts, the pastor, the conversion camp - all of it tugged on my heart and it conveyed exactly what the author wanted to say.

But the way this book handled certain things was questionable.
This book shows minimal awareness of how racism works from the eyes of a white protagonist. Although Connor understands and comments on racism and racist microaggression, he never does anything about it even on a personal level. The way the story is structured, it almost feels tied together by convenience because clues just fall into Connor's lap and he just conveniently hears conversations that might help him. The entire story happens along the course of a single day, which I found incredibly unbelievable given the amount of events that happen. The whole exposing and mystery solving of this conversion camp was worked on by two Black girls, and Connor just looks like big damn hero who barges in, makes life harder for everyone and somehow ends up saving them all. Too white saviour for me.

Although, I did enjoy the writing and the characters.
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The topics in this book I feel are so relevant. We have a boy who has to hide who he really is from a very religious mother. He gets kidnapped and taken to a conversion camp to be turned straight, cause we all know that being gay is a choice. I think what's just crazy to me is that this is actually a thing that happens.
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3.5 stars. I don't have a ton to say about this book, other than the concept is fantastically inventive and fun, but also hard to read. Connor Major is a 17-year-old from a small, rural town in Illinois, raised by a single mom, and just newly out of the closet at the urging of his boyfriend, Ario. His mom, a diehard Christian with a fanatic relationship with their town's Reverend, is not happy about the revelation that her son is gay - as "punishment," she confiscated his phone and put him on Meals on Wheels duty for the entire summer, making him deliver dinner to a bed-confined man named Ricky Hannigan. 

One night, Connor wakes up to some strange men in his room - they kidnap him, clearly approved by his mother, and put him on a plane to Puerto Rico. Despite his best efforts to escape, Connor soon finds himself in a conversion therapy camp called Nightlight, run by none other than his hometown's Reverend. At first, Connor is fine to pretend the camp made him straight to get the hell out of there. But the more he learns about the camp, its other campers, and its nasty history - much to do with the Reverend and Ricky Hannigan - Connor can't bring himself to lie. He becomes determine to get to the root of what happened to Ricky and get him and his fellow campers back home. 

I really didn't know a lot about conversion therapy before reading this book - to be honest, I thought it was an outdated and archaic practice that wasn't at all present in the US anymore. But silly me, of course it is - and the fact that it's frowned upon and banned in many states does mean that these camps can go overseas and be just fine, as long as the campers are under 18 and still under the control of their parents. Although it deals with difficult topics, this book actually turns out to be somewhat fun - almost like an escape or counterfactual fantasy. The teenagers are in control, and they fight back - which I'm guessing is rarely the case in real-life conversion therapy camps. The mystery with Ricky Hannigan is interesting, although I felt there was a bit too much emphasis on that narrative, and I didn't feel connected to the characters in the B-story. 

Overall, this is a fun narrative, a quick read, and overall, an inventive new story. Thank you to the publisher for the ARC!
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Ugh this book, this story. Connor is having a rough go. Made worse by his overly religious mother who ships him off for conversion therapy to a hell-like camp. I couldn’t put this book down.
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When I read this one was set in a conversion camp, I braced myself.

The exposition surely hooked me: the oppressive home town; the controlling, holier-than-thou preacher, and the "kidnapping scene" were definitely promising, but then the book became about finding a way out of this island in the middle of nowhere. You'd think that would keep the momentum going, and in a way it did, but I just couldn't get over the secondary characters. The cast of characters who worked on the island were a motley crew of messed up people but I felt bad for them. I was never really invested in their getting their comeuppance.

The book was heart-pounding for sure, but the conversion camp's program, what little readers get to see of it, was not well-developed.
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This was a story about Connor Major who has been keeping his love life a secret from his mom. There are some messy things that happened with Connor's parents, his dad is across the pond and his mother moved them to the bible belt. His mom gets this conversion therapy camp to kidnap him and hopefully convert him to being straight. Little does she know, there is more to the camp than she thinks. There is so much going on in the camp. It was a wild ride to say the least.

This book took me a little longer than expected to read but I was happy to have the chance to review it. I won't be able to add this to my shelf in my office at work, Working at a middle school I have to be careful about some of the books I add to my shelves.
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I really enjoyed this book. It was a great ride. I really liked characters and whole story is absolutely amazing. I love this book so much!
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🌴 𝐻𝑜𝓌 𝓃𝒾𝒸𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓉𝑜 𝓋𝒾𝓈𝒾𝓉 𝓂𝑒 𝒾𝓃 𝓂𝓎 𝓁𝑜𝓃𝑒𝓁𝒾𝓃𝑒𝓈𝓈

I am starting off this review with this quote because in all honesty I just read it again after months of my first read of the book. I completed this book back in January where I was in an extremely different stage in my life (I was dating someone that cheated on me) and so I must admit that writing this review is not going to be an easy experience seeing that it brings back a lot of unwanted memories. I guess this is where I say: everything happens for a reason. You may be asking: why do I care about your past relationship Filipe? To which I answer, this is a book about queer pain, something that I had to navigate in these past few months.

This pain can come from your parents that do not accept the person you became and love you unconditonally because you are their child and that is what a parent is supposed to do but society taught them that feeling embarrased for having a gay child is more important than your sons happiness. (I would like to point out that my relationship with my parents is great at the moment, but I still dont talk about being gay with my dad, probably never will).

Conversion therapy stories always disgust me because I truly reflect and wonder how a person who should take care of you wants to do the exact opposite of that but in their mind they are doing the best for you without even paying attention to your feelings. Connor Major, our main character, was sent to a conversion therapy camp. I can't even express into words how action-packed this book is, it will *literally* leave you at the edge of your seat, as cliché as that may sound. Shortness of breath? Check. Bouncing your leg up and down? Check. Turning your page so fast it rips at the corner? I would say check but I read an e-arc.

Despite it being marketed as a thriller, this book is so much more than that. It touches on violence towards queer people and how it can affect you mentally to the point where you start to forget how you truly are. This is a twisted story that I urge everyone to read, especially this month if you like to read suspenseful books during this time of year.

Most importantly, Surrender Your Sons made me cry. And it was not a simple single tear. It was bawling my eyes out at the coffee shop to the point where I had to stop, breathe and continue my read at home. It was so important to me because it taught me and told me things I needed to hear but I had no idea of the existence of this necessity until the moment I read them. It's not about about queer pain. It's about what queers do with pain. With my pain personally I always strived to transform it into love, into self-love especifically. Every time someone made me feel bad for expressing who I am, I would express it even harder to show that I am stronger than a hateful comment or a guide on how to be myself when the only person who lives my life is me.
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If I had to sum up what I thought of Surrender Your Sons in just one sentence, I would say: "mindf*ck of EPIC proportion". I love a bold plot twist and SYS had several that pulled the rug under my feet so hard I'm still shaken.

Before you even consider reading it, though, I beg you to check the TW. It's not trauma porn by any mean but it does depict a raw and dark reality for a lot of queer people out there, like verbal and physical abuse coming from many people including parents, statuatory rape, even suicide and murder. In a way, I'd say it's kind of an exact opposite of Camp, by L. C. Rosen. It's an important read, and a damn good one, but be prepared.

I wasn't expecting Ricky's story to be the main focus of the story but I'm glad it was. In a way, it pushed the conversion camp in the background by making it the setting of the story rather than the story itself, which offered a welcome distraction from the violence going on there. The mystery also happens to be flawlessly written, with bread crumbs satisfying enough to let the reader feel like they're closing in on the truth yet vague enough to not let them find out too soon. This is where the multiple plot twists do a tremendous job because we're so busy chasing false leads that we can't see the big picture before the end.

The only flaw that I could point out is that the events at the camp take about one day. That's a very small timeframe. Other than that, there was absolutely nothing I didn't like.

Basically: read it, buy it, shout about it and then read it again. 5 well-deserved stars and I'm looking forward to reading more by Adam Sass!
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Adam Sass’s debut novel, a young adult queer thriller, is the perfect read for to kick off your Spook-tober. Surrender Your Sons follows Connor Major, a recently out gay teenager who is isolated in a small town in Illinois.

His only salvation from the Reverend who has taken over every inch of his tiny town, including his mother, is his boyfriend, Ario, and his weekly Meals on Wheels delivery to a disabled patient, Ricky Hannigan.

Unfortunately for Connor, his mother and the Reverend discover he uses his Meals on Wheels trips to also see his boyfriend, and put him under strict house arrest.

It’s not long after this that his mother willingly has him kidnapped and taken to a secret island in the middle of Costa Rica with the hopes that when he comes back, he’ll no longer be gay.

Even worse, Connor soon learns that the Reverend is at the center of this horrible conspiracy, his power looming even larger on the island, as Connor tries to unravel the mystery thanks to a clue from Ricky.

Conversion therapy and its many sins and cruelty are the throughline of Surrender Your Sons. Sass does a masterful job of proving that, despite the loss of focus on the topic, conversion therapy has never gone away; it’s just better at hiding itself.

With the dramatic Lost setting and Wilder Girls vibes, Surrender Your Sons threads plenty of tension and mystery on top of the devastation, making it so that readers keep turning the page, even as the realities become more gruesome.

But even though much of the queer experience for many people (both on the page and off) can be traumatic and violent, Sass also weaves in a powerful narrative of queer resilience, joy, strength, and love.

When Connor makes it onto the island, he learns he’s not the only person in his situation, eventually having to choose whether to save himself, or work with the other teens to defeat the Reverend and escape together.

This includes a blooming romance with another camper, Marcos. Unlike Ario, who pressured Connor to come out before he was ready, unwittingly putting him in danger, Marcos and Connor have matching scars.

Beyond the numerous beautiful and powerful queer themes, Surrender Your Sons is a masterful thriller and mystery, begging to be read and re-read with its numerous breadcrumbs and easter eggs and incredible supporting cast. You can get your copy today at your local library or wherever books are sold.
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You know when books touch your soul? This one did. The fight Connor had. And all the highs and lows he had to deal with. It was just so real and the topics hit were so relevant and talked about with such Grace.
Def would recommend.
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I don’t even know where to begin with this review - all I saw on the blurb - a YA Queer Suspense/Thriller and I was hitting the request button immediately. 

But did I know that this would evoke such wide range of emotions within me while reading it - that I would be a mess after finishing the book! 

Surrender Your Sons is about a young queer boy; Adam who just came out to his mom under the pressure of his boyfriend; pressure that was more about being able to enjoy their relationship out in the open than about Adam’s own personal comfort. 

What doesn’t help is the fact that the only girl Adam dated, his best friend just gave birth to a baby - a baby that Adam’s mom wholeheartedly believes is her grandchild and Adam’s “rebellion” is the reason why he isn’t acknowledging the child. [Just FYI: He definitely is NOT the father of the child]. 

Everything comes to head, when Adam is kidnapped and taken to a “conversion” camp known as Nightlight - with his mother’s permission - because the eerie head of the Camp is none other than the Reverend, a friend of his mother’s. 

Now here’s where it gets scary; confusing and at times horrifying - and I am definitely recommending that ya’ll go into the book without too much information - the experience of going into this book without a floating device is indescribable. I know because that’s what I did. 

There were some issues I had with the book; and some of the issues hit my hard limits - and while it wasn’t the HEA that these wonderful characters deserved, it was a realistically content ending that I can actually come to terms with. 

Surrender Your Sons will have you gasping for breath, horrified and absolutely terrified as to how it will end - and while it was a thrilling fiction, it is also quite easy to realise that it has some foundation in truth.
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Sass took on a topic most would shy from, offered the LGBTQ+ rep many young adults yearn for, and showcased them both with the respect they deserve. This was a wonderful debut and I look forward to seeing what Sass will put out next.
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SURRENDER YOUR SONS is an emotional, harrowing, no-punches-pulled read that drills down to the core of queer trauma and the complexities many queer kids (and adults!) face. As a queer reader, the plot drew me in and the representation kept me with it - there were elements that were personally difficult to read (such as the religious homophobia) and elements that were satisfying/comforting (the found family arc), and that is a testament to the relevance of Adam Sass’s portrayal of the queer experience. There were some plot elements towards the end that felt a little unrealistic and bordered on sensationalization to me, but overall I enjoyed both the story and the characters. I think this book will resonate with many readers, and I hope it paves the way for more and more stories like it that boldly embody queer power and queer joy as wholeheartedly as queer pain and trauma.
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SURRENDER YOUR SONS was the hardest book I’ve read all year. Adam Sass wrote it beautifully, but wow, there’s some heavy material in this one, so read the content notes before you read it.

Sass did a great job capturing the fear and other emotions that come with coming out and showing that, when you don’t have a supportive family, that can mean awful and terrifying consequences. Connor faces the worst nightmare of coming out, after his mom sends him to a conversion camp on a remote Costa Rican island, he finds out secrets about his town’s reverend that lead him to work together with the other campers trapped on the island to expose him.

Connor works with the rest of the campers to bring the camp down in a series of surprising and terrible events. This book was full of twists - some more predictable than others - and the mystery of Ricky kept me going through the entire thing. I ended up devouring the book so fast because I kept needing to know more. I didn’t have many complaints - mainly just the timeline and how the story takes place over like 24 hours and some of the things that take place seem like they would take way longer to get through than that. I can follow him feeling and doing pretty much everything he did, but it just felt very quick for a short span of time.

Overall, this was a great read - captivating, high-stakes, and leaving you wanting more of it all the way to the end.
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Wow, this was such a good book! It was so intense and emotional at times. I liked how it showcased so many different things. Not only how different people dealt with this uncertainty in their life of coming out in a world like we live in today, but then how some people still are easily pushed into doing what society expects. But there were some really bad people in this as well. Some evil people at the camp, and then some that were just messed up, regretted what they’d done, and maybe wanted to make up for those things, even if it was too late. And there was romance, as much as there can be in the situations they were in. I liked how the author didn’t shy away from not only the emotional and romantic parts of the main characters relationships, but we also got physical parts, like you would with a heterosexual romance without the batting of an eye. I think it is so great to be getting books like this more easily available and becoming more normal, even if like some of the characters and situations in the book itself, not everyone wants it to be that way.
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I have no idea how to start this other than. this book broke me. It was so good and (obviously) so heart wrenchingly sad. I honestly couldn't read this book in public because I couldn't handle my emotions enough to keep calm. This book shows the complexities of everything and how most things aren't just black and white. You start to feel for some of the more...not good characters in certain ways. At least I did. They weren't good people. But there's a story behind a story behind someone's backstory, if that makes sense. We're a product of our upbringing. And I'm not excusing anything. Oh no, I also hate those characters with my entire being. But at a certain point, things become a cycle. And someone has to break the cycle.
Once I got to a certain point in this book (I don't even have to say which one, you'll probably just be able to tell once you read it) I couldn't stop crying. This book ended on more of a bittersweet note. There was happiness, but with the knowledge that there was lasting trauma. 
Also trigger warnings because there are A LOT

TW: conversion therapy, homophobia, homophobic language and slurs, violent hate crimes, graphic violence, suicide, murder, transphobia, sexism, racism, parental abuse, self harm, panic attacks, and kidnapping

there might be more, but that's what I can remember!
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Wow I hated this book. It was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I tried really hard to like it. Parts of it I even did like. But I also had some pretty major issues with it, both in the sense of 'I think this is sorta problematic??' and in the sense of 'was this actually edited??'

This read like a book that couldn't make up its mind on what exactly it wanted to be. I'm sad, because I think it had the potential to be great, but instead it's . . . not.

Before I get into my . . . many, many criticisms,,, I do want to touch on the good in this book. Conversion therapy is an incredibly important topic, and this book really packs a punch with some very powerful and important messages. I don't want to minimize that, and I believe this book will mean a lot to many people. I truly hope that others love this book much more than I did.

My first problem with this book was just ,,,, the writing. I could not stand the writing style. I liked it for the first maybe 10% of the book, but after that . . . I don't know if it got old or if it just got worse, but it very quickly became unbearable to me. It also . . . sort of felt really rough, almost like first draft level writing? So maybe it got better between the ARC and the final version, I'm not sure--but either way an arc shouldn't really feel like a first draft.

The book also just felt . . . a bit all over the place? I truly feel like this book tried to do too much at once. Somewhat relatedly, the pacing was abysmal. This took place over the space of a few (?) days, but it was really hard to follow the timeline and it just ended up feeling really choppy and messy.

also can I just say this had one of the worst sex scenes I've ever read and I Did Not Like It

My next big problem was that I really hated Connor. He just annoyed me so much, and like I was rooting for him, but only on the very basic level of 'literally no one deserves this place so I hope he can get out', because I sure as hell didn't care about his wellbeing specifically. He just . . . hhh he annoyed me. He was also sort of . . . inconsistent? Also, he cheated. He even acknowledged he was cheating, and he still did it and didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with it. And I am so not here for that.

Also I just absolutely hated the ending. It was,,,, so open and it felt like it was being set up for a sequel but I don't think it was????

Next we get to the slew of issues I had with this book that were a bit more . . . yikes. Some of these may have changed between the ARC and the finished copy, so do take some of this with a grain of salt, but . . . I had a lot of issues here.

- I felt there were some pretty strong implications that Costa Rica was "backwards" and that was why they were able to do have a conversion camp there but not in the US, which . . . isn't a great implication? and like,,,, conversion therapy is still legal in much of the US soooo,,,,,

- (I don't actually remember this very clearly, but I made a note of it so anyways) the only bi rep felt like it fit into a lot of harmful stereotypes wit her sort of being into everybody and? according to my notes she cheated too? I have veeeery little memory of this but I made a very angry note so yeah I guess it wasn't good and wasn't really addressed ever

- there were multiple comments implying that having sex made you better or more grown up and,,, can we Not

- also there was the wholeass time that the love interest said he was glad the main character came and I'm like,,,, I think it was supposed to be romantic???? but personally I sure as hell wouldn't be glad that someone I cared about had come to conversion therapy even if it *was* the only reason I got to meet them?? because it's going to leave him super traumatized and like,,,,,,, just don't. don't tell the guy you like that you're glad he came to conversion camp because it means you got to meet him

- last but certainly not least, one of my big issues with this book was the way Connor was given a chance to leave, and decided not to take it because it was "the right thing to do". Now I'm not saying I mind that he stayed (even if I think it was dumb), but I do take issue with the way the book portrayed it as The Right Choice. I understand not wanting to abandon the others there, but . . . is it really a healthy message to give queer teens that accepting the safe way out is immoral? It's not like he would have been actively harming the others by leaving, and . . . he didn't owe them anything. Sometimes when you're in a dangerous and traumatizing situation, you need to get yourself out first, and try and help later. He could have left, and then pointed the authorities towards the conversion camp harbouring a literal fugitive. I just . . . something doesn't sit right with me about the way it was portrayed. I'm not saying throw others under the bus for your own sake, I'm just saying . . . if other people are already under the bus, you don't need to throw yourself under too. I don't know, it didn't sit right with me.
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