Happy release date to one of my most anticipated reads of 2020, Surrender your sons by Adam Sass!
I had the pleasure to read this book in March (!!!!) and I’ll never thank enough Flux books for it!
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.
I’ve also had the pleasure to ask some question to the author! Thank you again, Adam Sass, for this opportunity!
What inspires you to write Surrender your sons?
Surrender Your Sons began with a documentary called Kidnapped for Christ, about a real-life conversion camp in the Dominican Republic. It’s now closed, but because it was a documentary, it obviously didn’t end with the campers rebelling and taking the whole place down. It ended in a quiet, bittersweet, and lengthy way. So I thought we needed to see a revolution.
What’s your writing process?
To tell you the truth, I can’t remember writing this book at all. Joking, but sort of not—it’s a lot of procrastinating, playing with my dogs, being worried, and then suddenly I get a burst of energy and it all flew out of me, bit by bit. I’m very emotional and intuitive about writing, so I like to plan plan plan, but then throw the plan away once I get into the writing. Or at least adjust as I go. I love when an idea takes hold, like “Oooh what if this actually happened instead?” And it takes the story in a different direction to the same conclusion.
Do you have a playlist for Surrender your sons or a dream cast?
I have a curated playlist you can find on Spotify! And my dream cast for the villains would be Guillermo Diaz for the Reverend and Sarah Michelle Gellar for Miss Manners. I’d LIVE to see them gleefully sending these teens on the run. The Reverend needs to be scary, but disarmingly charming. Miss Manners needs to be the opposite: inviting, but oh no she’ll kill you.