Conversion Therapy, Homophobia, Humor, LGBTQ, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Religious Fanaticism, Romance, Suicide, Violence, YA Fiction
Thanks to NetGalley and Flux for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 15th, 2020
Synopsis: 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 the 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.
Before I review Adam Sass’s excellent Surrender Your Sons, I have first share my complete and utter revulsion that conversion/reparative therapy is still allowed in the majority of states in this country. As of July 1, 2020, there will be only 20 states banning this reprehensible and THOROUGHLY DEBUNKED practice. The majority (including my state of Alabama), still allow parents to approve this “treatment” for their minor children. The Human Rights Campaign has a lot of information if you want to check it out here:
And there’s more at The Trevor Project at:
https://thetrevorproject.org/get-involved/trevor-advocacy/50-bills-50-states/about-conversion-therapy/ and https://thetrevorproject.org/category/advocacy/conversion-therapy/
Surrender Your Sons is a story you should go into as blind as possible so I’m going to go even out of my way not to include any spoilers than I usually do. Adam Sass states in his Author’s Note (which you should definitely read), “I want to acknowledge that you’ll find queer pain in this book. However, it’s not about queer pain. It’s about what queers do with pain. This is what drives the entire novel. The plot itself is dark, issue-driven, yet has moments of levity to lighten things up. There are a few themes that could pose a problem for some readers so here are my trigger warnings: Severe homophobia, physical & emotional abuse, graphic violence, sexual content, and suicide. The characters, beginning with Connor are so well written they seem to jump off the pages, and I feel as though I know them all personally, both the ones I liked and the ones I wanted to strangle with my bare hands. The mystery was interesting and kept me guessing right up until the end, but to be honest, I really kept reading because I became so emotionally invested in Connor and his friends. There are a couple of sections around the middle of the book where things slowed down a bit, and I think this could have been trimmed. Otherwise, Surrender Your Sons is a noteworthy addition to LGBTQ+ fiction that I unhesitatingly recommend for anyone 15 and up. It’s dark and brutal at times and will elicit some strong emotions, but it also leaves you with hope at the end.
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