Connor Major’s summer break is turning into a nightmare. His SAT scores bombed, the old man he delivers meals to died, and when he came out to his religious zealot mother, she had him kidnapped and shipped off to a secluded island. His final destination: Nightlight Ministries, a conversion therapy camp that will be his new home until he“changes.”
But Connor’s troubles are only beginning. At Nightlight, everyone has something to hide—from the campers to the “converted” staff and cagey camp director—and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe. Connor plans to escape and bring the other kidnapped teens with him. But first, he’s exposing the camp’s horrible truths for what they are—and taking this place down.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. TW: suicide, death, murder, conversion therapy, torture, hate crime, abuse (physicological and physical), homophobia. I'll never thank enough the publisher for granting me this wish. Surrender your sons is part thriller, part mystery, part coming of age, and it's the story of Connor, a gay seventeen years old, who, because of his religious zealot mother and their reverend, is kidnapped and brought to a conversion therapy camp on a island. The book, wonderfully and skillfully written, follows Connor trying to uncover a mystery, escaping from the island and exposing the horrible truth of the camp. Intense, raw, painful, beautiful, reading Surrender your sons was like having my heart squeezed, my throat punched, my breath knocked out of me. It's rare and precious finding a book that hit you so hard, you KNOW it will stay with you for a very long time. I couldn't put down this book, because I was so involved in the story, so attatched to the characters I needed to know what would happen next, fearing for them, cheering them on. I cried, I raged, I smiled and squealed. I hoped. Adam Sass's writing style was so powerful and intense I found myself feeling all kind of emotion and I was upset, angry, sad, full of rage and sorrow for this beautiful and complex characters. They are are skillfully written and relatable. It was impossible not to love and support Connor, Marcos, Molly, Darcy and the other campers. I was impressed by the relationships they have with one other, the way they protect each other, their strength and resilience in a place where everyone wanted to change and hurt them. Their being true to themselves and to each other is beautiful. They, like any kids or teenagers in that awful situation, feel all kind of emotions. They are angry, scared, hesitant and, at the same time, determined and furious and their complexity is well written and real. It was possible feeling some degrees of sympathy even for the "villains" in the story, because, (though this knowledge don't justify their cruelty whatoever) they seemed trapped into a spiral of hurt and trauma, that spanned generations, pushing them in the grey area between good and bad. Adam Sass wrote characters that are utterly flawed, real and human and it was easy being so involved in the story. Surrender your sons deals with important themes, like the conversion therapy, homophobia, hate crimes, suicide. I was really impressed by the way the author dealt with so many important topics and how, through jokes and witty remarks, the characters showed their strength and resilience, their bond and love. The characters are brimming with life and hurt, love and sorrow. This book deals with the concept that parents would do unspeakable things to their sons and daughter to have them be as they want. Thinking about that, about how queer people still live in fear of not be accepted and loved by those who are supposed to support and love them is appalling. And it makes my heart clenches and my blood boils realizing the cruelties people would do under religious justifications. The idea that it's possible to find a family (not necessarily a biological one) with friends was a powerful message. I think Surrender your sons is the kind of book (and mystery) the reader needs to discover on his own, going there without a single clue. It's a book about dark themes, and, at the same time, about friendship, love, justice, fighting back and so much hope. Hope is something that shines through the pages and it's impossible not to cling to it. I can't wait to have this book in my hands.
The single most gripping novel I've read, around LGBT experiences and issues, ever. Period. Grapples with serious topics in a meaningful, well-researched and trauma-informed way. A novel that was confronting, yes, and exposing, but in no way did I find the novel to be re-traumatising. The characters are layered and complex, and consistently deepen our own investment in the novel - we, the reader, strive to understand this messy, awful part of our world. We seek to empathise, understand, hate and even love all the people we journey with. I will recommend this novel to everyone I know, and all my fellow teachers, as mandatory reading. Will be buying the paperback of this when it releases. Highly recommend.
*Spoiler free* This book had me from it's synopsis. Queer teens plotting to take down the conversion therapy camp they've been forced to attend. I found out about this book a bit after I read and loved Foul Is Fair, a book about taking down horrible boys, so I was eager for more books where the world crashes down around terrible people. And this seemed like another one. Trigger warnings: homophobia, conversion therapy, transphobia, suicide, blood, gore This book lived up to the yearning I had for it. It fulfilled by expectations and it will proudly sit on my shelf next to Foul Is Fair when it finally comes out. This book is about queer pain. But it's also about queer perseverance, queer strength, and how every queer person handles their identity differently. Sometimes it goes really dark, but it also makes sure that there's light in hidden places as well. I feel like this book showcases a broad number of things and it showcases them really well. I feel like it's hard to talk about the individual aspects of this book, like the characters or their relationships, because what I felt like made this book so powerful is what lies underneath all of them. But I'm going to try to talk about both, because both made this book what it is. I think one of my favorite parts of this book was how every queer person in this book is different. They all reacted differently and they all handled things differently. No one way is correct or better than the others. Some are more fearful, some are more angry, and some are more out and proud. All are alright. I really liked how each character was allowed to be queer in their own way. They were given the space to react and handle the horror around them in a way their brains could process. Just, I liked how many different queer experiences were in this book and how well each of them were written. Speaking of all the queer characters, all of them have a special place in my heart. All the little kids, to the older ones. I loved all of them. I loved the ones who were scared and I loved the ones who were angry. I loved how there were the Moms of the group and I loved how even in the darkest of places, a boy with a puppy like personality could still exist. I liked Connor and his bravery and his anger and his fear and his whole journey. I liked how he came into his queerness and how real his pain felt. Nothing about his journey is shied away from. In all it's messiness and hurtfulness, it's there. Another thing this book does really well is that is does everything above, really, really well, but it also incorporates a mystery and thriller elements. And neither take away from each other! While I felt a bit confused here and there with the mystery plot and I felt like the dramatics just weren't quite there in some aspects, I still enjoyed reading it. Though, there were some moments, particularly at the end, where chills ran down my spine. Because wow. In the end, it was able to pull the story together and it pulled the emotional elements together in a way that brought them full circle. The ending was spectacular. It fit so incredibly well with the book as a whole and I'm so happy with what happened. It's happy and it's painful and every emotion is there so starkly. Everything that happened is at play in the ending. It was just a really great way to end it. This is a hard book. It shows the horrors of conversion therapy plainly. It shows how every queer person experiences their identity differently. It shows how there can be light, even in a place filled with the worse things imaginable. It's a really great book and it accomplishes what it's trying to do wonderfully. Thank you for visiting me in my loneliness.
Really intense, super messed up but sooo good. Honestly I think I was holding my breath throughout the entirety of this book. Personally being all too familiar with religious zealot's hatred and homophobia, Connor's story is a powerful read that will impact everyone who reads it. I've gone on about how much I enjoyed this book that it's the first book my boyfriend has started reading in over five years and so far he's loving it as well. I received a eARC from NetGalley for a review and if I haven't already convinced you that you need to read this book I'm just going to say I can't wait for the hardcover copy I pre-ordered.
This took me a night to read. I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish it. I. Could. Not. Put.This. Down. 'Surrender Your Sons' is heart wrenching, gripping, and captivating. Adam Sass does a great job at telling a story that unfortunately, so many boys, girls, non-binary, and other members of the LGBTIQ community goes through when they happen to be born into a family or small minded culture (town) that doesn't accept them for them. Kidnapped and shipped away to an island of horror, teens will have to survive the people who run the island as well as their 'own'. Which leads to the question; "Will anything every be the same...even if they survive?"
I will be very honest and say another book about a conversion therapy camp did not excite me at first. Thankfully a friend and I were both granted ARCs and he asked to read at the same time. If not it would have taken so much longer to read this masterpiece. It is the farthest thing from the assumptions I made. A thriller, where one of the primary clues is a Broadway Playbill? IM SOLD. This book hit so many weird intersections in my life that I haven’t thought about in years and tells a queer story that I haven’t seen told before. All 4 years of high school I attended a Christian Summer Camp - ON AN ISLAND(granted that camp was lovingly known as “Gay Jesus Camp” because it was attended by queer Christian youth from around the country). There are as many queer experiences as their are queer people in the world and @itsadamsass was able to construct a group of rag tag queers that really shines a light on so many different identities(catch a whole scene with they/them pronouns until the character identifies himself). I also love the conversation it started about romantic relationships and the complexity within those. Relationships that we want/relationships that we need and realizing that a relationship can not be good for us even when we think it’s what we need. This book was scary, thrilling - a true page turner. While it did so many scary things it really was a story filled with discovery of identity, chosen family, love, and loss. All this is woven into this complex and contemporary thriller. It is the gay hunger games I have been dreaming of for years!
Incredibly paced thriller about the horrors of being sent to a conversion camp on a small island off of Costa Rica. When queer teens fight back. I was stunned into plowing through this book. 2020 is the year of queer for me. I can't get enough gay YA and Adam Sass is going to be a big part of that year. Grab this one now.
I am not even sure where to begin as there is so much to unpack in this book about acceptance, family, revenge and love. When Connor is pressured by his boyfriend to come out to his very religious mom he knows it isn’t going to go well. However, he definitely underestimated just how badly it was going to go....he never could have dreamed up Nightlight. A conversion camp on a remote island it is the site of so many horrors, all with the purpose of making young kids who were across the spectrum of the LGBTQIA no longer identify with who they were as a human. With a murder mystery subplot and a battle against nature to rival The Hunger Games this book is a force to be reckoned with. This book made me angry and sad and finally happy, although not all books have traditional happy endings, but it will remind the reader that there is good and evil in this world and we all need to support the good!
Conversion therapy is still being considered by families who believe being heterosexual is the correct "choice." This novel stresses -- love is love, love is life, and love looks differently for everyone. Overall, this novel is an interesting glimpse into a conversion camp (and the lives of its campers) that is unbelievable in many respects but its base story resonates.
Surrender your sons was quite a tough read. It really hit hard in the feels compartment. Super intense and very emotional. Connor Major who recently came out to his not understanding mother was kidnapped and sent to conversion therapy camp on a far away island. But it turns out that this won’t be his only problem as the camp leader, the Reverend, has many dark and dirty secrets that will bring Connor and his fellow hostages in great danger. The kids plan their escape and try to expose the whole truth about that camp. This book is really dark and painful at times but it also has its quiet and tender moments. I really enjoyed the writing style and thought it was a very well paced thriller. Impossible to put down. I did like all the kids at the camp and was so worried about the outcome. The loyalty and growing love between all the young campers was so special and important. The ending felt like there might be a sequel which I’d definitely read.
This book was something different and I love it! It was really easy getting into and understanding the struggles of Connor and his life. He is such a cool character and a lovely human being. So where all the other kids at this god forsaken (hehe) camp. I loved them all and they were all special in some way or another. The reverend and his staff were scary, creepy and a holes (and crazy af). The mix of thriller and ya in this book is crazy good! It reads like a horror story at times, but never too much for the young reader. I can only compliment the author for this book. The writing style is fantastic and the level of sass was so so good, the theme was picked so well and executed brilliantly. I had all the emotions while reading it! I only had one problem at times because Connor didn't take everything seriously at first I couldn't either and had a hard time feeling horror at first. But that's my only complaint. Well done!
Surrender Your Sons covers so many important topics within the LGBTQ+ community and is such an important read. I found myself having to put the book down at times to contain my rage at the atrocities committed, atrocities I know are very real and happening everyday. I cried with these characters too, in their pain and their joy. And Connor's humourous commentary throughout, as well as the humorous banter from other characters, broke up the tension and kept the story moving. I could definitely see this novel made into a very successful series! Adam Sass has told so many important stories in one book and skillfully done so. I could.not.put.it.down.
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.
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?
I receive a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I can't even begin to say how thankful I am I received this book early because it completely blew my mind. I think it's safe to say it's my favorite ARC and one of my favorite books of the year so far. Adam Sass managed to talk about such a sensitive topic in such a light, fun but also serious way that you can't help but fall in love with the book. There are many characters in this book and they're all written in their unique way and they're so well rounded that you would recognize them even if the author didn't mention their name. Every character has their story and their own personality and it makes the book ten times more compelling. Don't get me started on the twists, because OMG there are so many of them! This is not a book that will make you feel bored or that nothing is happening EVER. I can't even count how many times I gasped reading this book. The ending is bittersweet but it feels so right, I wouldn't change anything about it. Thank you Adam Sass for writing such a powerful book and again many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me the pleasure to review this amazing story.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I received a galley of this book from NetGalley and Flux in exchange for my honest review. This in no way affected my review of the book! Light spoilers ahead. CW: suicide, mentions of suicidal ideation, homophobia, transphobia, conversion therapy. This book deals with heavy topics, but if these are things that are not triggers for you in any way, I cannot recommend this book enough. WOW. Before I say anything else, I just have to say WOW. This book is unlike anything I have ever read and I cannot wait for everybody to get their hands on this book come September. This book follows Connor, a 17 year old kid who recently came out to his mom upon the urging of his boyfriend (...ugh), Ario. A few weeks after this happens, he is promptly whisked away to an island off of Costa Rica in the middle of the night to a camp called Nightlight Ministries, where he discovers that this is, in no uncertain terms, a conversion camp. Here, he meets other campers including Marcos, Molly (who came in on the same boat with him), Darcy, and approximately 10 others. The camp, as it turns out, is run by the reverend from his town, Reverend Packard. I hesitate to say anything more about the book plot-wise, because that would really spoil it, but trust me, the rest of the plot is compelling, interesting, and totally worth the intense subject matter of the book. Adam Sass’ ability to create diverse, real, relatable characters is unmatched. Obviously, since this is a conversion camp, all of the main characters (minus of course the ones who are doing the horrible deeds themselves) are LGBT+, but something I liked was that it wasn’t necessarily specified, so everyone can have their own interpretations of the characters. Connor, as we know, was gay, one of the girls was bi, but we don’t really know the “labels” of the other characters’ sexualities and I really liked it that way. Knowing the wide range of sexualities that exist on the spectrum of sexuality and knowing that all of the kids at Nightlight fell somewhere on that spectrum allows for a lot of representation in the book without the bogging down of sitting there and dictating everyone’s specific sexualities. The characters were also diverse in race and class (at least from the characters whose class information we were privy to), but none of it ever felt forced or unrealistic. Perhaps one of the worst (see: best) parts of this book was how realistic it felt. The characters felt like people I know, felt like myself, and it hurt so much to read this book, but it was so gratifying to get to have the experience of reading it. The writing is very good as well, relatable and fun, and I loved how Connor was able to keep his spirit throughout the book, even when such awful things were happening to and around him. Probably my only complaint about the book is that it was a bit hard for me to get into, but once Connor arrived at Nightlight, I absolutely couldn’t put it down—that is about 10-15% of the way into the book. That is not to say that the beginning of the book wasn’t interesting and necessary, because I did very much enjoy it, but it definitely only gets better and more compelling once Connor is actually present at the conversion camp, as dark as that is. There is heart, mystery, intrigue, heartbreak, romance, and even comedy all within this one book, in a way that seems impossible given the subject matter, but fits together so completely and flawlessly. I can’t believe that I was lucky enough to get granted this book as a wish on NetGalley by the publisher because I have no idea what I would have done if I had had to wait for this book to come out until September. It is fantastic in every way and I will definitely be picking up every single one of Adam Sass’ future books just to see if I will be able to replicate the experience that I had in reading this book. I am going to recommend this book to every person that I know who I think will have even the most marginal interest in it, because not only does it deal with important and relevant subject matter, but it is a good story, with good representation and diversity that doesn’t feel either forced or negligible, while being able to maintain all of the qualities that you would expect in a book like this. I can’t wait for Surrender Your Sons to come out in September so I can buy it and so that I can continue to support this magnificent, wonderful, necessary story. Rating: 5 stars This review will be published today, 3/16, on Goodreads at the link below!
WOW. Surrender Your Sons was a completely messed up book. Just wow. I had no idea what I was walking into but I also couldn't look away from it either. Oh lord, this book was so sad that I felt my heart strings being pulled and twisted throughout the entire book. First off, no idea if these places actually exist to this day, but shame on parents who do this. I don't know how many times I wished I could reach into a book just to knock some sense into a person. Especially when it came to Connors' mom. She really needed a reality check and maybe a visit from baby Jesus every now and then. Second, love is love. No parent should ever try to change their kid. They should always be their number one support system and to see how parents, and even the adults at this wacko camp, were acting - it broke my heart. Third, I know this book doesn't sound like it has a lot of hope.. but it does. From the very beginning, I wanted all these kids to leave. To be rescued. Heck, to save themselves because they are bad ass to the bone. I won't say what did or didn't happen, you will just have to read it for yourself. In the end, always have hope and a god damn amazing support system.
Adam Sass could not have brought "Surrender Your Sons" into the world at a more perfect time. This book is NEEDED for young LGBTQIA readers, while also giving them everything they could possibly WANT: snappy dialogue, love, lust, adventure, scares, villians you love to hate, characters you connect with. This book wastes NO time throwing you into the thick of it, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat from the end of the very first chapter. I'm not just being cliche when I write - I truly could not put this down. From the moment I was introduced to, and connected with, Connor Majors & co., I couldn't go on doing other things without knowing how their journey ended. I found myself gasping out loud, belly laughing, and wiping tears from my cheeks all within the same chapter. Over and over again. You can tell Sass had fun with his one-liners and pop culture references, but the book truly shines when raw human emotion is laid on the table. Believe me when I tell you I sobbed towards the end of the book. In conclusion, I wish this book existed when this 34 year old gay man was in high school or younger. Alas, it did not. But I will make it my duty to introduce every gay high school (or younger) student I meet from now on knows about this book. I cannot wait to see what else Sass publishes in the future.
A great story that kept me on the edge of my seat. Adam Sass is a great new voice in YA and I can't wait to see what he does next.
I enjoyed this book for what it was which was a way to expose conversion therapy for the atrocity that it really is. I think it’s a great way to tell LGTBQ+ youth that they are able to stand up for themselves and who they are!
My anxiety has been steadily mounting these last few days, like climbing a roller coaster that has no summit. So I'm trying to focus on the here and now: crossing off to-do list items; enjoying the extra time with my partner. Other things that are helping: - Having a deadline for the last big revision of my debut - Supportive coworkers at my day job - Virtual write-ins with my crique group - The 2020 debut ARCs I've been getting my grubby little paws on 👀 And SURRENDER YOUR SONS is one of those! Hilarious, dark, LORD OF THE FLIES but jubilantly queer, fast-paced and hopeful. This debut from @itsadamsass is out September 15th. Preorder from your local indie bookstore, friends. Future you will thank you.
Received an ARC for review Okay, first of all : this cover is fucking amazing. Mysterious, giving so much dark vibes AND the perfect tone for this book. The author's note is really great, an awesome introduction for this novel. Now, let's be real : the book deals with heavy themes (first of all : reconversion camps) but there's still so much light in all this pain. And I really like the author view on this issue. But be careful : lots of TW. The writing style is awesome : precise, sharp like a knife and giving A LOT of emotions without being too melodramatic. The characters are really well fleshed out, believable and likable. I loved them so much. It's hard to review Surrender Your Sons without giving too much. It's a book where's it's far better to go in without knowing much about it. A really, really great first novel.
As one of my most anticipated releases for this year, this book exceeded my expectations. I LOVE all of the characters. They grew on me. I found myself screaming for them to make it towards the end. Not getting into details because spoilers but this book dealt with a really tough subject matter and it was handled with care. I liked the writing style and it is so hard to read at times, yet it is so hopeful. A thing or two I didn't like: -the pacing -I found some of the character's motives questionable -I think some questions were left unanswered Regardless, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND *Copy provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
I wanted this book to highlight the types of torture these kids go through. Instead, it was just about the kids and their captors. I enjoyed it. This subject makes me so mad! I can't believe people do this to their loved ones. To their children. I also can't believe it's legal. The book was written well. The characters were fun. And a revenge story is always great. I would recommend this to other readers.
Content/Trigger Warnings for Surrender Your Sons Homophobia Death Suicide Murder Conversion Therapy Religion used as basis for hate Violence towards LGBTQIA+ characters internalised homophobia I was provided with a free arc of this story via netgalley - thank you to the publisher! Surrender Your Sons is a powerfull LGBTQIA+ story with a broad and diverse cast. The reader follows the protagonist Connor as he deals with the aftermath of him coming out as gay to his super religious mother. She decides to send him to conversion therapy on a secluded island where escaping seems impossible. When everything seems hopeless, he starts to get to know the other children and teens in Nightlight conversion therapy camp and finds some hidden truths that change everything on the island. I loved how the author chose to write this book in a way that conveys hope in a hopeless situation, still has humor and characters that are true to who they are. Adam Sass didn't shy away from painful parts eighter and careffully made them part of the story in a way that never felt like just another trope or lliterary device but natural and real.. The book was written in a way that made me nearly unable to put the book down and I wanted to keep reading this story. The end of the book is satisfying and provides closure for the characters and an outlook on how their life continues after the conclusion. What I really apprecciated was the authors note in the beginning of the book that informed the reader of some of the triggers in the book and about why the story has to be told in the way it is. A truly amazing book and if you feel safe reading it with the given content warnings, I would 100% recommend it!
I got to read the ARC ebook, and this is my honest review. I completely fell in love with how Conner phrases things, very kid-like and off-the-wall word choices, shifting emotions and weird humor. For me, that was the best part of the book, and the reason it works well. I also very much enjoyed his character arc, and Marcos's. It is a thriller, as the author points out, so some bad things go down. The timeline's a little frantic. The Author's Note contains content warnings, and it is reasonable. If you enjoy thrillers, queer victory despite everything, and a complicated ending, this is your book right here.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. OK-I read the synopsis of this book and I wasn't exactly sure what I would be getting, but I was VERY intrigued. After finishing it, I am so glad that I took a chance on it and am glad to see if enter the realm of contemporary YA. This book, believe it or not, is a mix of conversion camp (you know, the "pray-the-gay-away" cesspools), the television show Survivor and a murder mystery. No really, it's all of those things. And it's all of those things done pretty well. Connor Major is a junior in high school who has bombed on his SATs, has an ex-girlfriend who just had a baby (that isn't his, no matter what everyone else believes) and has just come out to his mother since his boyfriend encouraged him to live truthfully and out of the closet. Unfortunately, his mother refuses to believe in that part of him and sets up a deal with the next door neighbor who just happens to be a reverend who runs a secret conversion camp in Costa Rica. One night Connor is taken from his home, packed on to a plane and deposited in a camp in the middle of an island off the coast of Costa Rica. There, he begins to realize the truth of his neighbor and the camp he's been sent to. A camp that most people spend at least a year, if not more at. What he also begins to understand and that there is more to this camp than just the conversion story of its campers; the camp was also host to Ricky some 20 years ago. Ricky was another man in the town where Connor lives, and someone he saw on his Meals on Wheels route. After passing, Ricky left Connor a playbill with a cryptic note to watch out for Nightlight, the name of the camp Connor now finds himself at. Ricky had a tragic injury from earlier in his life and the more Connor finds out, the more he realizes this injury, and the death of Ricky's husband, all stem from Nightlight. So now Connor has to find a way off the island, and he has to figure out as much about it as possible before he leaves. Highly recommend. Appropriate for grades 9-12.
"Nightlight has no TV, no running water, no basic necessities...but they've got body bags." SURRENDER YOUR SONS drew me in with all its terror and twists. This is a horrific camp story unlike any you've read before. There is a deep emotional connection with the main character, Conner, and his relationship struggles with his mom. He can't be his true self or feel safe to be himself and that reflects throughout the story. Every chapter has a terrific hook to keep turning the pages, even though many parts of it are scary and psychological as hell. I enjoyed the deception and the layers of secrets. And the last chapter rips my heart out. My favorite line is, "This camp has a boner for freezing us inside a snow globe of detestable, old-timey America."
But I'm a Cheerleader meets Latter Days. Except where the main characters are in denial in both of those movies, Connor knows he's queer. It's those around him in denial. *whistles* This. Book. Man. It was brutual. And sometimes we forget that in even modern times, where so many of us have strong support systems and can live our truths, queer pain STILL exists for so many others. Evil will always exist in different forms and prejudices so we will have to always fight for ourselves and our neighbors. Surrender Your Sons is only one of those stories out of millions. Even if it's fiction, it could easily be someone else's reality. The story in Surrender Your Sons doesn't just touch Connor's life, but spans across generations. It's a legit toxic cycle of 'because that's how it's always been done' that exists now, more relevant than ever. People don't like things they don't understand. They don't like being uncomfortable. They don't like change. They want others to conform to their world views so they can keep living in their boundaries. Their denial. Even if it means hurting those you claim you love. Connor's mom is so deep in denial about her son, it's devastatingly blinding. She will do or say anything that makes her son make sense to her instead of finding her way out of her own darkness. She goes to the extreme measures of having him violently kidnapped and hauled off to a secret island to fix him. Unfortunately for the island, he's not going down without a fight. Surrender Your Sons is a fast-paced intense thriller that doesn't shy away from the ugliness of the world. The uncomfortable parts. Adam weaves a universe by fleshing out the characters and plot so well, that by the end of the book, I was personally shocked it had only been a few days and not actual months. It takes a lot to shock me. From the moment I heard about Surrender Your Sons, it called to me and I did everything I could to get my hands on it. I don't usually like reading the tough stories but I'm so glad I picked this one up. I can't wait to read more of Adam's work in the future. (Quote)Nightlight tried to snuff it out, but love grew. Love found its way to the island.(Quote) #LoveIsLouder TRIGGERS: [Paranoia, Homophobia, Religious Bigotry, Family Bigotry, Hate Crime, Gay Bashing, Conversion Therapy, Death, Suicide, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Psychological Trauma, Physical Trauma.] ***Thank you so incredibly much to Adam Sass, North Star Editions, Flux, and Netgalley for providing a platform for reviews and allowing me the privilege to review Surrender Your Sons.***