Cover Image: Surrender Your Sons

Surrender Your Sons

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Member Reviews

This book is a must read.
Even though it covers a very serious and sad subject, it manages to walk the line in between being serious and funny.
The main character is resilient and adds lightness to a heavy subject .
This book shows how trauma affects people differently, but that also people are resilient and can come out on the other side of it.
Loved this book. Can not wait to read other books from this author.

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wow what a book. I am so thank ful to netgalley for giving me this e arc. This book has it all. Querness, mystery, and murders. The book also deals with mental health issues and coming to terms with what or Who you are. And It leaves me withe a big question. How can people hide behind religion and justify what they do with that way?

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5* I suspect that even the most unlikely audience of this book will be moved by it.

I won't rehash this tale, as it follows the blurb faithfully. I will tell you that it's about relationships formed in a matter of days that'll probably last a lifetime. It's about doing something good out of tragedy. It's about the evil that I suspect still exists in sects like Nightlight, and about the parents who can't love without strings attached. It's about manning up and doing the right thing, even when you get a chance for a quick, if selfish, way out, and putting others first. It's about selflessness and belief and about triumphing and not being broken by the devastation wreaked by the actions of others. It's a slap in the face that reminded me how lucky I am, and how lucky that I'm not in a country like the US, where conversion is still a thing.

It's an excellent book that I think should be a must-read in schools in the US.

ARC courtesy of North Star Editions Flux and NetGalley, for my reading pleasure.

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To the surrendered: find each other, and survive together.

Thank you North Star Editions at Flux & Netgalley for granting my wish to read a copy of this arc!

Connor Major is gay. However coming out was not a tender moment of acceptance with his Mother. Instead - he is taken in the middle of the night to a dark place built on secrets.

Adam Sass prepares of for what is to come by saying this,"You’ll find scary things in this book, but just like in life, when the trouble hits, you’ll also find humor, good friends, and courage you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams." He does not steer away from queer pain but gives it it's space to be felt. Sass dives in headfirst into the guilt of queer kids coming from extremely religious roots.

Nightlight Ministries serves a cruel purpose. To soothe the minds of the loved ones that their children will return "normal." At what price does "normal" come? This book tore me apart. It had so much heart. I will be honest with you that I was tears by the time I got to the acknowledgements. I am so glad I have been able to read this book. It touches on how coming out may not always be safe

However my only wish for this book were that what happens when Connor gets to Nightlight took place in a longer time frame. I feel like it would've been stronger with the discoveries Connor made and the main romance.

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Thanks to Flux for the ARC – I’ve never had a Netgalley wish granted before!
The fact that it was a wish, rather than a request, meant I didn’t know a lot about Surrender Your Sons going in. I was part expecting a fantasy novel (and I was amused to read in the acknowledgements that the book had started out as one). In trying to get a bit more information, I was puzzled by the reviews – it seems everyone had given it either 1 or 5 stars, with no in-betweens. After reading it, I think I understand that a bit more (though I’m much closer to the 5-star group).
It took me several chapters to get into the book – the writing style didn’t always sit well with me, and I took longer to warm to Connor than expected. However, once I got past this first hurdle I was completely hooked – I didn’t want to put the book down. It’s been a long while since I so enthusiastically recounted what was happening in a book to anyone who asked “what are you reading?” (and the book’s content led to some interesting conversations with colleagues).
I’m nonetheless torn how to rate this – should making me cry on the train be an instant 5 star? Perhaps. However, this is another YA book that I objectively might rate lower, except it's poking me right in the heart and I can't give rational thoughts on it. I’m sad that books like this didn’t exist when I was a teen, but so glad that today’s teenagers get to read it. It feels like an important book, though it’s deeper layers perhaps only become clear towards the end. I’m being purposefully vague here, but I will add that I was shocked at the book’s capacity to make me feel something approaching sympathy for people doing truly reprehensible things. I would also definitely read a sequel all about The Moms and / or Molly.
This is a bittersweet, deeply engaging book, with some important lessons for young and old alike. Whereas my instinctive reaction to Connor’s situation was anger, Surrender Your Sons left me feeling sad, grateful, and hopeful, all at once.

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I want to thank Netgaley and the publisher for Arc. Spending these last few days in Connor's company was not easy, a boy who recently came out to his mother who insists on saying that the pregnancy of his best friend is his fault, giving everything a blessing to God being in a city that is totally Christian and who lives at the mercy of a mysterious Reverend who is loved by everyone. Adam Sass's writing is very good and contagious, creating in some moments an aura of suspense in history that you don't know which way you are going.
Surrender Your Sons, is a story inspired by the countless cases of "Sexual Correction" broken from Boy Erased.

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Wow. That’s all I’ve got, a hard wow. I can not believe how good this book was, how it went from making me laugh to making me cry to making me feel like I could taste ash in my mouth. It was incredible, and so well written. Just...beyond belief good.

This book is about difficult truths. Don’t look away from them. Conversion therapy, suicide, abusive families, coercive relationships, hate crimes...it’s all covered in this book, and quite frankly, I’ve been waiting a long time to see a book that is this upfront and candid about the issues. Places like Nightlight Ministries exist, and queer kids are sent there daily. Some of them don’t come home. All of them don’t come back the same. It’s a horrifying reality, but we cannot look away from it.

The characters are so well developed, complex, and wonderfully, wonderfully queer (I mean, to be fair, who else would quote ‘Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?’ in a life or death situation?). I just wanted to meet all of them, be friends with them, making them hot cups of tea. When I’m sitting there reading a book wanting to meet the characters, it is something special. Connor is a sweet protagonist, and incredibly courageous, and all of the others are given so much attention and care from the author that they all feel so fully formed it boggles the mind.

The plot? Twisty, mysterious, and incredibly engaging. An absolute roller coaster in the worst and best possible ways, it took so many turns but they all made sense and were all dropped hints early on. Nothing came out of the blue. Relationship wise, there was no insta love- everything felt like it came from somewhere, even though the time period the book is set over was so short. It made complete sense, and worked really well given the circumstances.

Just an incredible book. I can’t wait for it to come out officially so I can tell everyone I know to go get a copy.

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I think the representation with this book is important, but it falls flat for me. The grammar is occasionally horrid and the sexualities aren't equally mentioned. They're more like an afterthought, which frustrated me for some reason. Only one trans child and the lesbians are just kind of there. Usually titles pull things together, but it's not only males that are sent off and that makes the title not that great for me. Also a certain couple were slapped together out of the blue even after one of the individuals were noted to have a crush on the protagonist. It just felt forced. I also didn't care for the stereotyping I felt was going on with the protagonist. An interesting read, but I doubt I'd read it more than once.

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That hurt.

I'm going to be vague in this review until the book actually releases because I don't want to spoil this wonderful, painful, hopeful story for any other readers. Anything that might be a spoiler will be tagged as such, so if you decide you want to take a look that's up to you.

Conversion therapy has always been a heavy subject for me and many others. To have the people who are supposed to love you no matter what send you off somewhere to be tortured into "fixing" or "curing" yourself is... unbelievable to me. From the moment this book started, I knew it was going to make me feel - and it certainly did. I rooted for Connor and his friends; I cried for them; I got angry for them. I want to applaud the author for that because a book like this should make you feel.

I loved these characters. In the span of a single book, I loved Connor and Marcos and Molly and Darcy and all the other queer boys and girls trapped on an island from hell.

It's a brutal, painful read, but it ends with hope. Frankly, if the author had decided to just let the characters shrug off everything they endured at camp and move on like nothing happened, I'd have been extremely disappointed. That's not to say I wouldn't want a happily ever after for every character but if you're dealing with a subject like conversion therapy... it's not going to leave people the same way they went in. So, there is some bittersweetness to the ending but there is so much hope and that's what made me truly love this book.

This is a good I'm not going to shut up about, and I can't wait for the release date so I can get this book on my shelf.

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Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass, published byNorth Star Editions/ Flux; is a full length, stand-alone thriller of it's finest.
I started reading and what can I say, I read the book , cover to cover, in one sitting. I simply couldn't put it down. It's an nailbiting, hanging on the edge of my seat read.
Connor is a 17 year old, fresh out of the closet and about to go through a lot, like a Lot.
He's raised by his mother only, a few years ago they moved to a small town and this town's simply too small for Connor. He's a typical teen, he's just growing up, but the adults in his life are the ones that makes me ha.. them with the power of a 1000 suns.
My hreart was breaking for Connor and his friends.
Surrender Your Sons is not for the faint of heart, deals with sensitive subjects, consider you warned.
It's a raw and gritty read, excellent written and beautifully thought out and beautifully told.
I'm so glad I gave this new to me author a try.
I recommend the book, 5 stars.

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One of the most necessary books of 2020, hands down. Exquisitely written and torturous at parts, this book plays in multiple genres to tell the story of Connor, a gay teen sent against his will to an isolated conversion camp, and his attempt to escape. Sass wrings tension out of every moment, and expertly sets up the mystery in the background before you even know what's happening. To temper your blood racing, there's also aromance that genuinely made me tear up at points. People make broad declarations about the supposed safety of being a queer teen in 2020, but as Sass points out, there are plenty of places in the Midwest and South that parts of this story may be all too familiar to. A savagely beautiful novel that everyone should read.

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Part thriller and part coming-out story, this YA novel defies easy categorization. But what cannot be denied is that Adam Sass has written a page turner that captures with humor and sensitivity the hopes, trauma and angst of being young and queer in the United States today. At the same time, it will have you on the edge of your seat, as its unlikely ban of heroes and heroines does battle at a conversion camp on a remote island outside the United States. Although the action at times verges on the fantastical and absurd, it is a fun read that does not shy away from tough topics and emotions.

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I have been waiting and waiting to read this book, and was so excited to get an ARC from NetGalley! This book lived up to the hype I built in my mind the second I saw the cover and read the synopsis. From the very first sentence, this book is beautiful.

Connor Major, the protagonist, is insanely likable. He's funny, decisive, and mature. I loved how he was able to see people in complicated lights--even as they are making his life a living hell. He holds space for other people to be complicated. He also reads like a teenager. That he is all these things at once is incredible, and it is what I think makes this such a magical book. The premise is dark, and this book follows it to dark places, but Connor's witty voice keeps even the darkest parts lit--a NightLight of his own. He's amazing! And he's not even my favorite character. That honor goes to the hilarious Molly, who gets some of the best one-liners in the book like "Oh, oh really? Should I be careful on the ladder that is obviously broken? Should I?"

If you're debating reading this book, stop debating and pre-order. It's a delight. I hope Adam Sass writes another book soon--I'd read anything he writes from here on out.

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A unique story. We focus on Connor and his fellow hostages at Nightlight and through them see the many ways that lack of accepting and loving families affects them. The story is well woven and each character is beautifully alive. As the mom of an LGBTQ son, it is so hard for me to understand the level of fear and hate one person can have for another, especially a parent for their child. Sass does a wonderful job of sharing the impact this has but also the significance of support from the family you make when you don't get it from the one you have. Dark with serious themes, the book balances the mood well so that it is equal parts hopeful and sad. For those who might need them, be sure to read the author's note at the beginning before starting the book.

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Thank you to the publisher for this ARC. The story was very fast paced and keeps the reader engaged, as they want to know what happens to Connor and the others. It was part thriller, part horror (the fact that a place like Nightlight could and can exist), and drama. The main character Connor is likeable and you want him to be safe & happy. The ending seemed a bit unrealistic that most of the families of the Nightlight escapees were welcoming them back and open to their identities after shipping them off to be reformed. It seemed possible it was set up for a sequel and I would be willing to read that if it means that Miss Manners get caught.

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So first things first, I was provided an arc of this book by the publisher on NetGalley. Never say wishes don’t come true haha. Now, if I’m being honest the first thing that drew me to this book is the yellow front cover. Not only is yellow one of my favourite colours, it’s also severely underused in the cover art world and my bookcase is crying out for it, so I will definitely be purchasing a copy of this as well. I was also very nervous to read this book, because of the topic of conversion camps, but I'm so glad that I pushed past that.

Surrender Your Sons is an absolute roller coaster of a book and while I usually try to avoid including spoilers in my reviews I just can’t do that here. This book made me feel SO MUCH that I need to discuss is at length, so please be aware there will be some minor spoilers but nothing plot breaking.

When I was ¼ in it was maybe 3 stars. I found Connor to be frustrating, he’d go backwards and forwards between being obsessed with his current boyfriend and getting back to him, and then flirting with Marcos, one of the other campers, and so it kind of made any feelings he had for Ario seem a bit?? Fake?? I guess? The further in to the plot we got however, the higher the star rating rose.

Connor and the rest of the campers are scared, they’re children. They’re in a place where they’re being told all sorts of lies about themselves. But oh my god are they resilient. From the ones who try their best to protect the younger kids, to the ones gathering evidence since they arrived in an attempt to bring Nightlight down, every single one of the campers was so, so strong.

For Connor, Ario was the only queer person he was aware that he knew, and he provided a safe space despite the fact that he pressured Connor to come out before he was ready. And Ario was also pulling away, which made Connor paranoid and possessive. Marcos, on the other hand, was protective and attentive and we all know that trauma bonds people. While Ario’s parents were accepting, both Connor and Marcos had been sent to Nightlight by their family. They experienced the horror of it together, and if that isn’t shared trauma I don’t know what is.

Surrender Your Sons is about generational queer trauma. It’s about the way that inflicting this kind of damage to even just a handful of people can resonate outwards like a small rock thrown into a river creates larger ripples. From the younger members of the group, to 17 year old Connor, to some of the camp workers themselves who were returning campers so caught up in the lie and the Reverend’s power that they came back to work for him. And underlying all that is the story of Ricky, an older gay man who Connor had served meals on wheels to before Ricky passed away.

Generations of trauma squeezed into one book. It packs a hell of a punch, lemme tell you.

I read it in a day. If it had stretched over into day two I would have had to sleep not knowing what happened to the group. I would have had to go to work and sneak tense 15 min reads into my breaks and lunch. This was not a situation I was prepared to deal with and so I stayed up until 1am or so, with a belting headache, intermittently screaming at a group chat about how intense it all was.

By the time I was at the last few pages I was exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally but oh my god was it worth it. This book was a masterpiece of character growth and complexity. It had so many twists and turns in it that I almost got car sick without going anywhere. Some chapters were very hard to read, and I cried several times but I also laughed. And after that teaser of an ending if we don’t get a sequel where 5 years down the line Connor is leading an elite team of ex campers to track down Miss Manners I will cry (I doubt we will actually get that, but if you think i'm not going to run fake scenarios through my head of this exact thing then you are WRONG).

I recommend this wholeheartedly. But please do go into it with open eyes. Due to the nature of the plot there is discussion of suicide and self harm, of murder and religion and hate crime. It isn’t a book for the faint-hearted, but if you’re willing to give it a chance it’ll wow you.

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Surrender Your Sons is a V E R Y intense book... which is to be expected when the main character is kidnapped and sent to a conversion therapy camp I suppose. This book was a very emotional and relatable read, with the main character Connor often feeling like he struggles with being gay, even before his religious fanatic of a mother orders him to be sent to a very creepy and secluded conversion therapy camp called Nightlife. What surprised me most of all was just how well the central mystery worked - with a lot of history to the different characters, working out how the different parts of the plot fit together was very satisfying, with the final few chapters and ending almost literally taking my breath away with how intense they were.


I really enjoyed getting to know all the other characters in addition to Connor; although we didn't really spend loads of time with most of them, they were all well defined and sympathetic - all the other campers in particular had their moments to shine. I also liked the writing style, and I felt like we got to know Connor a lot more intimately than with other YA thrillers. The one character I would've liked to spend more time with was Connor's mother, because although the epilogue was great I would've liked a more personal resolution to that particular thread. 

Overall, this was a tightly crafted masterpiece that made it super satisfying peeling back the layers of mystery intrigue, that was often quite disturbing in depicting the reality for a lot of queer kids out there even today.

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CW: suicide and talk about an attempt, parental and other abuse, punishments, panic attacks. It takes place in a conversion therapy camp, so be prepared for a lot of homophobia.

I stumbled upon this book while browsing on twitter and I thought it was such an intriguing premise. I never expected my Wish for it would be granted on Netgalley but as soon as it was, I couldn’t think of reading anything else but this. And wow was I not wrong. I really don’t have words to describe what I’m feeling right now after finishing it.

The first thing I can say is that this book is unputdownable. Once I started reading, I just couldn’t even imagine putting it down till I reached the end and knew what had happened to all the characters. It’s that engaging and interesting. It also captures the teenage voice and their emotions very well. The book is very tightly plotted, with each little thing being revealed very slowly but still keeping the mystery alive, and I never guessed the complete truth. As most of the book takes place in a religious conversion camp, I was expecting it to be very horrifying - and the author manages to capture the horror of what’s happening and the terror the young kids feel, while also showing the beautiful solidarity that forms between the kids themselves. There are friendships, romantic relationships and platonic bonds that form and they are what give us joy in an otherwise bleak situation. This is truly a story about finding light in darkness, and strength in adversity.

And what a great ensemble of characters this book has. The story might be told only through Connor’s POV, but we meet so many amazing young queer kids who are put in unimaginable situations and the strength and resilience they show is highly admirable. Most of this story takes place in just about two days, but the author really lets us get to know each of them very intimately - their stories, their inherent natures and what they are ready to do to get out of the hellhole they are in. Connor, Marcos, Molly, Darcy, Lacrishia, Jack, Vance and all the other children - I loved every single one of them and was rooting for them throughout because they deserve all the love and protection.

The author also doesn’t shy away from showing the brutality of the people running the camp, but at the same time is able to create moments where we even sympathize with them. This is masterful writing and just emphasizes the point that the cycle of abuse is real and people who do monstrous things may have suffered in the past themselves, but that doesn’t make them any less predatory. And while it’s wonderful to see the queer kids fight back and stand up for themselves, the author also gives a reality check that out in the world, there will still be people who will trust the predators and zealots, and punishing a few of them doesn’t make the bigotry go away. The story is also very open about the long term harm that these kids suffer and how much positive support and psychological help they need to be able to get through it all. There is also the harsh reality that it’s not always easy or possible be out of the closet or to cut off homophobic family members and how living with them can be an ordeal in itself.

To conclude, this book is an intense mystery that gets hold of you on the first page and doesn’t let you go till the end. And despite the horrific setting of the story and the brutality that ensues, it’s characters are full of heart, humor and hope and we just keep wishing that they’ll make it out alright. There are a lot of uncomfortable truths are that are present in this story and that’s precisely why I think we should all read it.

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This book blew me away and it broke me. My heart? In pieces, barely held together. I won't say anything, I won't spoil. I'm heartbroken by this book. Broken. Still super shaken. Unputdownable, heavy, raw, real, painful, hopeful. I'm full of emotions, I can't seem to think straight (pun 100% intended). This book needs to be read, shared and loved. You need this in your life. Trust me on that. It'll frustrate you, anger you, to no end! But it'll also give you so much hope.

The way it was written was just very easy to follow, and the hard themes, this way, just hit harder than if the book was written in a very complex way. The good characters were well described and you cheered for them, while you felt the hate from and for the bad characters. Through the pages I felt everything. Just a few words describing how these kids were treated, how ugly the world is for queer people, and you felt it, right in the heart. Such simple words, on a page, giving you such strong emotions.

I felt that Adam Sass did a magnificent job with this book. Showing how parents think they are doing their kids a favor by not accepting them and trying to change them in the worst way possible. He showed us many realities, all felt real and made me realized how they are real for someone.

I loved this book, how it broke me, because this is not a good situation. Things are bad but there's hope, and this book shows you all the ways things can go. It's raw, it's honest, it slaps you in the face. I can't recommend it enough. All the stars!!

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