Cover Image: Surrender Your Sons

Surrender Your Sons

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

ARC provided by North Star Editions via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Trigger Warnings: death, queerphobia, suicide, violence, cultism.

Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass is a gut punch of a book. It evoked quite a few strong sentiments in me: anxiety, sorrow, anger to name a few. It left a sour taste in my mouth. It’s an emotional, challenging book that needs the reader to be ready to take it head on.

Connor is a dynamic narrator, one you get easily attached to. And the rest of the crew is just as impressive and strong. Even if this novel is fictional, real cases of similar stories exist. Conversion therapy is not a long-lost practice. It is still a reality in many places. There are people who hate and hurt queer folks just for the taste of it.

As much as I hated the obvious villains in the story, there’s one character that irked me so markedly, namely Ario. I don’t know if I can even define it a trope, but I really hate when characters are forced into coming out because they fear losing their current partner. “And the prize for WORST BOYFRIEND EVER goes to… Ario!”  No one has the right to decide when another person comes out other than that person! I already hate the fact that queer people have to come out in the first place. “Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn't be this big awkward thing whether you're straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I'm just saying.” Becky Albertalli said it perfectly. 

I’m not the best reviewer and there are far better analyses of this novel out there. Still, I gave my two cents and I ask for people to read this book. It’s a must-read.
Was this review helpful?
Brutal, but entertaining. Horrific, yet hopeful. Literature in the form of a throat-punch. Surrender Your Sons left me breathless!
Synopsis: Connor Major has recently come out as gay to his mother. Rather than being supportive or accepting, she has him kidnapped in the middle of the night and sent to a conversion camp. Nightlight Ministries is a place of nightmares. Connor and the other campers must attempt to escape, but not everyone will make it out alive.
SYS is a poster child for trigger warnings, please do your research before picking up this book. Some triggers are: religious extremists, assault, death, etc. This story is graphic, but fulfilling. There is no violence for shock value.
This has the ‘Lord of the Flies’ atmosphere that I live for! Survive, return home, or die trying! 
As a straight women, I can’t imagine the nightmarish scenario of being shipped off to a conversion camp to “pray the gay away”. But for many, this was an actual living nightmare. These places existed (and still do), and caused severe trauma to the “campers”.
I think Adam Sass handled this story/topic with grace. I would recommend to readers who have thicker skin and are looking for a dark, twisted and heart pounding story to read this fall.
Thank you NetGally and Flux for providing me with an E-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Release date is September 15th, 2020! Get your copy!!
Was this review helpful?
CWs: Murder, suicide, allusions to suicide ideation, homophobia, religious fanaticism, use of homophobic slurs, descriptions of physical punishment, allusions to deadnaming and misgendering, instances of abduction

Let me start by saying this: Surrender Your Sons is a story that, yes, explores and confronts queer pain out of necessity, but it is not a story without hope.

Surrender Your Sons is a powerful, enthralling story of survival. I would compare the tone and feeling of the story to that of The Promised Neverland in that there's a constant, unrelenting sense of danger and the characters are trapped in a place where almost everyone is deeply corrupted. The fast pace of the story will leave you guessing and dreading whatever comes next.

I appreciate the way the story confronts the harmful effects of conversion therapy and religious fanaticism on the queer community, which are all too real. If a story like this were to gloss over those issues, it would not be a truthful reflection of the horrors queer youth are expected to navigate in this world. While acceptance and support are very much possible outcomes for those who are out, it is not guaranteed; for many queer folks, coming out is very much unsafe, and this story explores that inherent danger and heightens it.

Part of the tension the audience may feel while reading this book comes from the way the story structure itself emulates the uncertainty and fear many queer people experience on a day-to-day basis as they navigate trying to gauge which spaces are safe and which are not. But seeing Connor fight his way through it and refuse to succumb to that terror is extremely cathartic. There's also a surprising amount of humor and heart for a story so deeply twisted, and I think that also plays a big role in keeping the story from feeling hopeless.

I think what's so powerful about Surrender Your Sons is that, ultimately, it's about Connor and his fellow Nightlighters reclaiming their power and agency from those who have so violently tried to strip it away. Connor is not the type of person to wait for someone to care about him or notice that he needs help; in this particular situation, waiting for someone else to help could result in your own death. He and the rest of the kidnapped teens have to make a plan, fend for themselves, and fight for their lives in the most realistic sense. With every battle, every pitfall, every obstacle, these teens are declaring their right to live and exist, which is what makes it such a compelling journey.

There's also a really great mystery element that drives the story forward. It's not just that Connor was sent to Nightlight because he's queer and that queerness must "be expelled by force," but because something even more sinister is happening beneath the surface that only he can figure out. That element also helps alleviate some of the darkness in the book, because the story is never about suffering for suffering's sake; there's a concrete mystery Connor is trying to uncover and understand, which gives the reader something else to focus on and heightens the stakes even more.

My only issue with the story, personally, is the condensed timeline. On the one hand, I think having such a condensed timeline is what brings the story a sense of urgency, ups the ante, and really contributes to that fast narrative pace. But on the other hand, it took me a little bit out of the story, because I could only keep thinking about how Connor had only been on the island for a little over a day while some of the other Nightlighters had been there for months or even years without being able to break free. While Connor's tenacity and willingness to take risks is a big part of why they're able to fight back for the first time, I felt like the pay off could've been even greater if Connor had spent even just a couple more days going through his plan. Even so, I still really appreciated the endgame this story was working towards.

Again, this book is not going to be for every reader, and that's okay. The story may be incredibly triggering for some readers—especially queer readers—and that's valid given the content of this book. That said, if you are able to get through it, the payoff is incredibly powerful and I think the story has so many important things to say about how queer youth survive pain and trauma: with community, hope, love, and maybe just a little bit of spite.
Was this review helpful?
okay, this was extremely hard to put down. It's gripping, it's terrifying, and it's so very relatable. trigger warnings below.

First, I fell into this book from the first frigid interaction between Connor and his mom. The way Connor is treated, his nearly forced coming out, his internalized homophobia, and stubborn refusal to surrender. It's heartbreaking, and utterly gripping.

Connor is shipped off to conversion therapy, and it's a nightmare. And while it is awful in the way one can expect from conversion therapy, there's also wry humor, sparkling romance, warm friendships, and a thrilling mystery.

i seriously want to wrap this entire group of kids in my arms and tell them it will be alright. You will survive. Homophobia doesn't win. You're strong and brave and entirely deserving of love and being yourself.

Anyway, this book hit me hard in the gut. It reminded me of harsh conversations with people in my life about my sexuality, my own fear and experience with conversion therapy and religious fanaticism, and the utter desperate desire to be free.

Also, no spoilers, but while Surrender Your Sons has DARK moments, this book is not just a hard thriller. There are shining times of Queer Joy and survival. Basically, the bad guys don't win all the time and I needed that hope for this story.

Trigger warnings for homophobia, abuse, suicide, religious trauma, violence, transphobia and conversion therapy.
Was this review helpful?
raw, emotional and deeply relevant, Surrender Your Sons is a book you do not want to miss out on. 

scrolling through netgalley one day, I stumbled upon this book and clicked the elusive 'wish for it' button, promptly forgetting about it. Flash forward and 'the publisher has granted your wish' appeared in my inbox. You have no idea about the rush of adrenaline that phrase gives me. I hadn't heard a single person talking about it, which in itself is a travesty. So I decided to go into it blind and see where the experience took me. And let me tell you, it was certainly an experience. 

I would actually recommend not knowing too much about it before diving in, as to not spoil a single one of the twists and turns this roller coaster of a book takes you on. The bare bones premise is that a queer teenage boy is one day whisked away to 'Nightlight', a convention therapy camp by his religious zealot mother until he becomes 'normal'. Things are even more sinister than first appear and Connor devises a plan to not only escape, but take the camp down. I won't tell you anything more than that- if you want to know, you should read it instead *nudge nudge*. 

I knew I would love this book before I even read the first page. The authors note that prefaces the book had me emotional before I even began. 

"It's not about queer pain. It's about what queers do with pain. Queer pain is something we've seen either too much of in media or bungled in some way... I promise you, the reader: in the pages of Surrender Your Sons, there's light in the dark. You'll find scary things in this book, but just like in life, when the trouble hits, you'll also find humour, good friends, and courage you couldn't imagine in your wildest dreams" 

What was contained within the pages of the actual story similarly had me in various states of emotion. I felt everything from disgust to anger to devastation to hope. Surrender Your Sons may not be easy to read, but it is similarly not easy to forget. I felt ashamed of ignorance regarding the current state of conversion camps in the world. It is easy to think that they are something of the past, overcome by this age of acceptance. But that is simply not true and to believe so, is to deny the pain of the hundreds of thousands of people who have been forced to 'fix themselves'. It is horrifying, but it is reality. 

But this book is not just about bringing awareness to these difficult truths. It is funny, filled with loveable characters and an adorable blossoming romance.

I did have some slight issues with aspects of the story, including the unbelievable time period it takes place over, and some odd choices that verge on being problematic. This is a spoiler, but it is quite clear from the beginning that this would happen. I want to mention it because I have read some reviews of people being unaware of this element and not liking the book as a result. It didn't bother me at all, but I know many people have an issue with this: (view spoiler)

I would recommend this book to almost everyone. Almost. If you feel you could be triggered by some of the content in the book, I would urge you to wait until a better time to pick it up. Apart from that, please please read this when it comes out! I would love to see this own voices queer story getting the hype it deserves. 

Thank you to North Star Editions for this ARC

Release Date: 15 September 2020
Was this review helpful?

Before you begin, it's important to know this story centers queer kids in the midst of conversion therapy.

That's not to say you shouldn't read it. In fact, I'd sure as hell recommend reading something like this from an OwnVoices author like Adam Sass as opposed to an allocishet creator, because this way, you get to center the queer voices first and foremost. 

But the point remains that this is a tough story in some ways. An angry one, really. Connor Major, who just wants to be loved and accepted for who he is, has to face the reality that his mother shipped him off to conversion therapy because she can't accept it. Worse still, he has to face the pain intentionally inflicted not only on him, but the other queer kids trapped in the Nightlight Ministries camp. This isn't some cheery coming of age experience.

It's bitter and dark and asks teens, even children, to make impossible choices just to survive.

I'm certainly glad I read it when I was ready; this would have made for a tough read if my mental health hadn't been in a relatively steady place.

And yet, despite all the gloom, this isn't solely a tragedy.

In fact, this is what I admire the most about Surrender Your Sons: despite the danger and the cruelty, we have main characters who refuse to back down. When the adults in their lives hurt them instead of protect them, they take it upon themselves to change their world. Even better yet, they do it together. There is no gatekeeping, and there are no questions of "queer enough."

There's only a group of campers who know they deserve better than violence and control held over their heads, and they're going to end this together.

Really, it's an incredibly hopeful note to include in a book with such dark and upsetting elements. By working together, by listening to one another and trusting your community, there's hope for change, for something better on the other side. 

And at the end of the day? I'm such a sucker for hopeful endings. If characters can go through their own personal hell and still come out the other side looking forward the future, I get all mushy inside. What can I say? I'm just a simple sap with simple needs.

What Surrender Your Sons needed, though, was a tighter plot structure.

This is supposed to be a thriller, but at times, I found Surrender Your Sons to be almost painfully slow, even over-focused on exposition. Nearly the first third of the book felt as if it took far too long to take off and introduce the mystery elements that support the thriller elements, and sometimes, later portions of the book slid quietly back into that feeling, though not as frequently as in the beginning. 

Additionally, I sometimes felt that the major plot points detracted from Connor's struggles. Granted, Surrender Your Sons examines cycles of violence and retribution, so it's not all about Connor by any means. It looks into the ways violence is perpetuated against vulnerable queer folks now and then, here and elsewhere, and it adds a necessary depth to the book. But there are times when I felt that it didn't focus enough on the here and now of Nightlight Ministries, instead pushing too far into a past that held only partial bearing on the present.

Overall, though, this is an angry queer thriller worth a go.

Different readers are going to get different mileage out of Surrender Your Sons. Such is the truth of most books, but it's especially important here. There will be readers with a great deal in common with Connor, and others who feel for him without having experienced similar obstacles. For some folks, this may be an exceptionally triggering book, and for others, maybe not.

But the potential variety of experience, the intrinsically queer perspective, and the pulsing, persistent hope for a better future make Surrender Your Sons worth reading. It releases on September 15th, only a few days from now, and when you're ready, I recommend joining Connor on his journey toward loving and protecting himself and other queer kids like him.

CW: homophobia, transphobia, domestic abuse, gaslighting, child abuse, violence (including gun violence), sex scene, loss of a loved one, racism, suicide, alcoholism, underage drinking, smoking, gambling

[This review will go live on Hail & Well Read at 2:30pm EST on 9/11/20.]
Was this review helpful?
Boy, where to start. This book is a lot. In a good way, mostly.

The beginning was a little slow—there's a lot of build-up to leaving for Nightlight, which feels like it may have bogged the story down a little bit. There are some structural things (not going to go too in-depth on them because I don't want to give anything away) that I didn't love and that petered out toward the end of the book.

But once Connor is at Nightlight, the story kicks into high gear, and WOW. It's a wild ride.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and not gonna lie a few of the side characters get lost in the mix. Connor and Molly remain at the forefront of my mind and are probably my two favorite characters. I feel like this is a book that really celebrates and honors the female characters (well — most of them) because they do so much of the heavy lifting.

This book is, I think, about empowering queer teens — showing them they have the resources to fight back against the world who tries to take them down, whether that world is their own family or whether it's a crew of haters on a deserted island trying to force them out of their queerness.

One note is that this book does not shy away from dark topics. This seems obvious, I mean it's about conversion therapy, but when I say it gets dark, I mean it gets dark . Again, I don't want to delve too into it and I couldn't find a list of trigger warnings to share, but be aware that there's heartrending moments in this book that might affect you.

It's hard to say I "enjoyed" this book because it deals with such a hard, heavy topic, but Adam Sass' writing is great and he weaves a compelling tale, one that makes you root for the teenagers who've been sent to this horrible place and makes you root against the people keeping them there. And makes you want to fight against all the people propagating conversion therapy, still.
Was this review helpful?
Kids at a gay conversion camp gang up on their homophobic guards was not a book I realized I needed in my life, but this was fantastic! A very strong LGBTQA thriller.
Was this review helpful?
A few weeks after I came out to my parents, which was age wise around 24, my Mom called me to say she could have someone at my house tomorrow to help me. Specifically she was referring to Exodus international, a now defunct faith baith organization that worked to bring homosexuals out of their ‘lifestyle’. The irony was the founding members ending up falling in love. (Can’t make this stuff up!)
Suffice to say I declined, she mellowed, and now I have a gay recruitment center runout of our basement that has initiated thousands into the world of queer. 

Seriously though, having that in my background I couldn’t wait to read Adam Sass’s new book. The story centers on a teen, Connor Major being raised by a single mother who has found both solace and support from the local church and has fallen under the spell of its charismatic pastor. When young Connor comes out,  his mother arranges for Connor to be taken to what is essentially a boot camp, the kind of place you hear about for troubled teens taken against their will to straighten out, but this is to LITERALLY straighten out. But on top of figuring out how to get away from this crazy campsite, Connor is wrapped up in a bigger mystery at play that could possibly involve a murder and a coverup, which he’s determined to get to the bottom of even if it could kill him. 

This was a mixed bag for me. First, kudos to the art department for a crazy cool cover it took me a second to really see! Tonally this falls somewhere in the vein of a campy CW show, with a cast of toned hunky guys, some smart snarky lesbians and an ultra witty protagonist. 

Yet despite writing about the truly harmful effects these reparative therapies have on queer people, the not surprising reveals and witty banter diffused a lot of the impact and drama and I found myself doing a few eyes rolls. I think I was expecting something closer to Gerrard Conley’s, “Boy Erased” and less ‘But I’m A Cheerleader’. And while much of the book is certainly entertaining, overall it wasn’t quite the home  run I was expecting. The book comes out next Tuesday the 15th, and thank you to the tagged publisher and @netgalley for the advance copy. Have you read this? Planning to? And if so, what did you think? Lmk in the comments!
Was this review helpful?
When Connor is sent, against his will, to a gay conversion therapy camp, he quickly decides he’s not just escaping: he’s helping rescue the other kids and taking the camp down. This book packs in a lot: heart, thrills, and a wicked sense of humor. You will fall in love with these characters and think about them long after the last page. One of my top books of 2020.
Was this review helpful?
I received an advanced copy of Surrender Your Sons through NetGalley, so I could share my review with you!

Content Warnings: This book contains instances of homophobia, conversion therapy, transphobia, suicide, and familial rejection of identity

Something’s always been a little bit off in Connor Major’s ultra-conservative small town.  The church preacher is revered by the entire population, including Connor’s mother.  All this led him to keep his sexuality a secret for many years, but when he finally takes the plunge and comes out, things go more wrong than he ever could have expected.  His mother has him abducted and sent off to a conversion camp on an isolated island, where he has no hope of leaving until he “changes his ways.”  Run by his home-town preacher, Nightlight Ministries is a brutal anti-queer conversion therapy program.  Connor hopes he can make it through the camp and escape before too long, but when things take a turn for the violent, he is forced to question what secrets this so-called “camp” is hiding.

You can get your copy of Surrender Your Sons on September 15th from Flux Books!

Surrender Your Sons was compulsively readable!  I tore through the story, desperate to know what would happen to Connor at each turn.  I am not normally someone who enjoys reading thrillers, but this book met the perfect balance between intense and believable.  The plot was quite dark and might be triggering for readers who are sensitive towards the previously mentioned content warnings. 

My Recommendation-
If you love high-stakes stories about LGBTQ+ kids fighting for their truths, Surrender Your Sons should definitely be on your to-read list.  This book would be a great choice for readers looking for a fast-paced fall read!
Was this review helpful?
Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4.5/5
Final rating: 4.25/5

A brilliantly written queer YA thriller! This book had me uneasy and on the edge of my seat for the whole ride. It cycles you through every emotion, and then a couple more for good measure, with some jarring plot twists and jaw dropping moments.

Connor Majors is seventeen. He’s gay in a small, highly religious town, and when his boyfriend pressures him to come out, things go wrong in all the worst ways. He’s kidnapped in the middle of the night to go on a “vacation in Costa Rica” paid for by his mother. As we soon figure out, it’s actually a conversion camp, and Connor and the rest of the kids must figure out a plan to escape.

First off to all potential readers, **please mind the content warnings** (I will include a list at the bottom of this review that may contain spoilers). This is a book that tackles some really heavy and dark topics, and may not be for everybody! There are some light moments and lots of humor, and the writing is fantastic, the characters are interesting and diverse, but there’s a lot to deal with here. For some people, that’s fine, but there was definitely a lot that made me uncomfortable. 

The story is told from Connor’s point of view, but the other characters are equally vibrant. I loved all the other campers, and they’re all well developed. My favorite part of any book is the characters, and this one is definitely no exception. You go through the story rooting for all of the campers, feeling their pain, and wanting, so desperately, a happy ending for each one of them. However, I was not a fan of Ario and how he kept pressuring Connor to come out, which soured my read on their relationship.

As a few other reviewers have mentioned, the pacing felt off to me. A lot happens in an extremely short amount of time, and while I’m pretty good at suspending my disbelief, I would’ve liked things to be a little more stretched out/developed, especially given the depth of the friendships and relationships that came up. The majority of the action happens in the last half of the book, which makes the first half feel like when you're going up in a roller coaster and bracing for the fall, and I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, but in a way that there was this constant undercurrent of dread and anxiety, which I think is great for a thriller and works well in this book.

While this is not the book for everybody, I think this is a great book that hits some really important and heavy subjects. Conversion therapy is, unfortunately, not a work of fiction, and there is a lot of basic rights that the queer community still fights for today. Sass touches on many of these topics in a great way, and I look forward to reading more from him.

Thank you to the publisher, the author, and Netgalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Content warnings:
Homophobia including internalized homophobia, religious homophobia, murder/suicide, conversion camp, religious zealotry, large age gap in relationship, sexual content, mental/physical abuse, violence, abduction, pressure to come out
Was this review helpful?
Surrender Your Sons is a thriller that took me on an emotional roller coaster. It broke my heart in a million ways and managed to put it back together again. Whether it be the intense terror of the setting, the conversion camp, the very real undercurrent of danger, and the homo/transphobia, or the moments of laughter, of friendships formed in adversity, or self-acceptance. I experienced them all throughout Surrender Your Sons. I encourage future readers to check out the trigger warnings, because I think that a lot of the tension and thriller vibes in this book revolve around the very real fear of being a queer person in this environment.

Knowing that feeling of fear of being found out and excluded. Having these fears manifest not only in reality, but in this nightmare-ish camp setting of violence, where one's existence is denied. At time it was a little much for me and I had to step back, but I always wanted to keep reading. Surrender Your Sons is action packed, taking place over the span of a few days. It's a story revolving around mystery and secrets. The ways we are taught to suppress our queer identities, and the ripple effects of this pain, and the journey to remove ourselves from toxic settings and relationships.
Was this review helpful?
A thrilling survival tale set on an remote island off the coast of Costa Rica, Adam Sass’ engrossing YA debut Surrender Your Sons follows Connor Major, a gay Illinois teen whose recent coming out lands him at at a conversion therapy camp run by a pack of violent zealots. Aimed at teen readers but something adults will also enjoy, this one’s a real page-turner – Sass throws countless obstacles in his young protagonist’s path and it’s a joy to accompany him as he attempts to outsmart his captors. The sarcastic, music-loving Connor is an immensely likable character, and the other queer kids in his company are all richly imagined with engaging stories of their own. Sass weaves a complex tale – the story includes more than one villain and blurs the line between victim and aggressor once we learn the secret history of this camp. Intense, funny, and at times terrifying, this is one of those novels that constantly screams “make me into a movie!” Extra points for a perfectly placed RuPaul’s Drag Race reference.
Was this review helpful?
Surrender your sons is a nightmare come true for queen folk. Conversation camps are real and still present in our society. Sass writes suspense amazingly and the action scenes are written fluently. The writing is precise and punchy. You feel the emotional pain of our lead and the dread of this nightmare place of a camp. I bowed out not reading after having my wish granted to read surrender our sons because it feels all too real reading it as a ace gay person. But I had to push through it because this book is THAT IMPORTANT.   Sass deserves all the praise it has received so far and deserves even more. It fucking deserves to be a bestseller. Queen people  we can survive and prosper and we will
Was this review helpful?
This was a great read. It reflected the reality of many teens and the struggles they face, despite growing up in 2020 USA. When you look at the president and his treatment of his citizens though one can understand how people suffer so badly under his regime. Sass really used words well to pull at our heart strings and did so even more heart wrenchingly when he introduced the love interest too. I really enjoyed this read and think it should be encouraged upon many for there is a lot to learn here and a lot that shoudl be taught to many people, both young and old, across the globe.
Was this review helpful?
A group of gay teens are kidnapped and taken to an island off of Costa Rica where a conversion therapy 'program' is run. Yeah, pretty horrendous - as in torture and abuse, weird and weirder assignments to convince these kids they aren't gay, and a deep dive into the history of the pastor who runs it. Solid topic to explore in this YA book, yet I am torn in my opinions. On one hand, I appreciated how the author dealt with parental issues surrounding their kids coming out, how religion is twisted into a way that truly damages kids irreparably, and how difficult life can be made for gay teens who are struggling with their sexual identity. However, I struggled with the length of this book (almost 400 pages was waaaay too long, in my opinion), the jumping around through time periods, the implausibility and improbability of much of the plot line (especially on the island!), and the tone of the narrator's voice. I read the author's note at the beginning of the use of awkward humor and why he does it, but it wasn't my favorite.
Was this review helpful?
This is a tough one to review, but I'll start by saying it's one of my favorite books of the year. Here's why:

- It's an LGBTQ+ thriller/adventure and an own voices story.

- It paints a picture of the difficulties children and teens face when coming out to their loved ones and how sometimes those family members are disgusting crap people who don't or won't accept it.

- The wide array of characters and backgrounds as well as the suspense/mystery aspect.

- Connor's headstrong attitude and loyalty to those around him. All the characters had well-developed, distinctive personalities, right down to Marcos' relentless nervous finger-snapping.

- The setting. The Costa Rican jungle was thick and well-secluded; the perfect spot for a hidden island conversion camp.

- The play on words. The sign at Nightlight says "Surrender Your Sins".

This book was just so good, you guys. It was sad, brutal, painful, mysterious, upsetting, difficult to read, hopeful, scary... I felt so many emotions while reading. The children in this story ranged from elementary school-aged to late teen. It was so sad to read about these young children sent away to this awful conversion therapy camp by those who were supposed to protect them. The even sadder thing is that these camps are real. The thought of children being abused and tortured into "fixing" themselves is disturbing. This story could be real. It is sickening and maddening that these parents are so unaccepting of their children. It's been a few weeks since I finished this book and it took me this long to get my thoughts together enough to write anything down. When it was over, I just sat and pondered. I thought about my own kids and how they could never say or do anything to make me love them less; that I could never put them down for being who they are; that I hope they always feel comfortable enough to tell me things.

This book discusses a lot about coming out and one of the big takeaways is not to let anyone pressure you to come out. It should be done when the person is ready and not a moment sooner. This struggle was a main theme for Connor throughout the book and something that he tossed over in his mind often when he finds himself hauled off to this camp.

I really don't want to give much away, plot-wise. So I'm going to stop here and tell you that you MUST give this book a read.
Was this review helpful?
Loved this book!! It's definitely one of my favorites now, and I thought the lgbtq+ representation was amazing. I will certainly be recommending this book.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley, for granting my wish.

I wanted to love it, I firmly believe that gay conversion camps need to be discussed more, but I just don't believe this is the book for it. The pacing was off-a murder mystery, blossoming romance, and escaping an island all in one day just wasn't plausible for me. And these kids were in life and death situations, but all the main character could think about was how hot a fellow camper was. The language throughout the book was extremely graphic-it had everything from suicide to homophobic slurs. I do appreciate the author's boldness, but there are definitely some triggers in this novel that should be mentioned before beginning the novel.
Was this review helpful?