Pubblicato in: As Travars-Recensioni

May the best man win by Z.R. Ellor – Turn the page tours blog tour

Hello and welcome to my stop for “May the best man win” by Z.R. Ellor, organized by Turn the page tours! I’m so excited to be part of this tour, because this book was one of my most anticipated read of 2021 and I’m really happy to recommend it with all my heart!

TITLE: May the Best Man Win
AUTHOR: Z.R. Ellor
PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press
RELEASE DATE: May 18th, 2021
GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Contemporary, Romance


A trans boy enters a throw-down battle for the title of Homecoming King with the boy he dumped last summer in ZR Ellor’s contemporary YA debut.

Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdated school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise—and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King?
Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend—who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign.
When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being canceled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding—and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.

REPRESENTATION: Trans*, Gay, Autistic, Queer

TW: transphobia, misgendering, deadnaming, abuse, dysphoria, physical violence, ableist language, homophobic slurs and homophobia

Thank you so much, NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Roaring Brook Press, for the chance to read and review one of my most anticipated books of 2021!

Jeremy Harkiss is the cheer captain and student body president and he won’t let his coming out as trangender boy define him and ruin his senior year. He’s determined to be seen as he is, a boy and he’s ready to battle against bigots and the outdated school administration, so he decides to run as Homecoming King, challenging his ex Lukas for the title.
Lukas is a football start and head of the Homecoming Commitee and he’s struggling to put order in his life after being dumped by his long-term girlfriend, who turned out to be a boy and his own family falling apart and he won’t let Jeremy steal his crown, after having broken his heart.
So they start an intense battle, made of sabotage, cheating, involving their friends and, soon, the whole school, in their rivarly, while struggling with their own fears, doubts and wounds. But when they are forced to work together in order to save Homecoming, Jeremy and Lukas have to face the hurt they are hiding and their mutual attraction.

May the best man win is such an amazing novel and I loved everything about it. Told by two POVs, Jeremy’s and Lukas’, the stoy is intense, wonderful and heartwrenching, tackling important themes as transphobia and homophobia, misgendering, deadnaming, violence, aggression and so much more.
The story focuses on Jeremy and Lukas and their complicated and intense journey in finding themselves and one other, their places and community, facing family’s, school’s and society’s expectations.

Jeremy is struggling with the bigots at school, a complicated relationship with his mother, dysphoria and the desire to be finally seen as he is: a boy. Not Lukas’ ex girlfriend, not a lesbian, not a pretender, but himself, but he’s forced to face constant transphobia at school, above all from his ex friend Philip and to fight against the school administration, who doesn’t want to do anything in order to protect him, not wanting to jeopardize Philip’s father money donations.
His decision to run as Homecoming King is strongly connected with his desire to be seen as he is. At the same time Jeremy is acutely aware of how little the school is doing in order to protected the marginalized community and he’s determined to change things. His battle with Lukas is also complicated by unresolved feelings, painful and intense past and their profound wounds and bonds.

Lukas’ life is falling apart around him, since his older (and cruel) brother died and his family changed, stopping talking to one other. He wants to fix everything, to put order in his messy life and becoming a Homecoming King is the only way he’s seeing to attract college’s attentions and making his family proud of him, struggling to be seen by them. Lukas is autistic, even though few know about it and he’s under the costant pressure of being the perfect football player, the perfect son, the perfect student, carrying his family’s, his school’s expectations on his shoulder. The author wrote skillfully his complicated relationship with his family and brother, the pain of losing him, but also the relief of not being hurt by him anymore, his need to salvage what he can and to keep his family together.
His painful breakup with Jeremy, the pain of having lost him, after years and years together, the knowledge of not knowing exactly why it happened weighs down on him, filling both of them with anger and pain, pushing them in all-out war, threatening to burn down everything and everyone around them.

Their journey is messy and complicated by intrusive thoughts, like feeling unwanted and unloved, heartwrenching past and interactions, bad days. Both Jeremy and Lukas show the world a front, what people want to see, a fake Jeremy and a fake Lukas, in order to be accepted, loved and included, at school and at home. But slowly the pressure of not being themselves threatens to destroy them both and Jeremy and Lukas have to face themselves and one other and be finally honest and happy.
Both of them feel unwanted and unloved and keep thinking everything (family’s and their own’s expectations) will be solved with the crown, while the whole world is crashing around them. Slowly they are forced to accept the reality and start loving themselves for who they are and not what the others want them to be, realizing the love and support from their friends and family members.
On this note, I have to say I loved the side characters, above all Sol and their constant energy and jokes and Ben and Naomi, with their support and love, even though they all were “forced” in the middle of Jeremy’s and Lukas’ breakup, aftermath and fights.

Jeremy and Lukas are intense, complex and amazing main characters. They are teenagers, they are messed up, desperate, filled with anger and pain. They make mistakes, hurt people, apologize, struggle to be better, to be and find themselves in a world, often, bent into put people in labeled boxes and in smothering them.

I loved how the author talked about Jeremy’s anger and fire and the wonderful and supportive queer community he finally finds, where he can fit and be himself, how Lukas, after struggling for so long under the pressure of being someone he wasn’t, learns to embrace and be himself.

Jeremy’s and Lukas’ relationship is truly intense, moving and heartwrenching, made of still open wounds, unresolved tension and questions, pain and desires. While facing one other in the battle for the Homecoming King, while struggling with their own problems at home and school, between lessons and friends and fights, Jeremy and Lukas slowly realize how much they still care and love about one other, under all the pain and misunderstandings. It was really beautiful reading how they fit, how much they are still in love and how to move from there.

“We fit together like puzzle pieces, my fire and his reason, my energy and his comfortable arms.” (quote from the earc, so it can be subject to change)

May the best man win also tackles how often the powers, as the school administration, can turn a blind eye only for monetary gain, refusing to acknowledge and listen to victims denouncing harassments, sexual, physical, hate speech and so on, leaving more often than not people alone and afraid to speak, because they are afraid they won’t get their justice. Even though it doesn’t solve the problem with the whole school system at Jeremy’s and Lukas’ school, I was really moved and impressed by the community’s support and love in defending their classmates and in their desire to change things for the better.

The novel also talks about stereotypical thoughts about being gay, trans and female, about what it means “being a man”, misogyny and harmful behaviour.

I really loved reading May the best man win. The story is amazing, brilliant and I enjoyed so much reading about Jeremy’s and Lukas’ journey and their incredible and intense bond.

Z. R. Ellor (he/him) is the author of MAY THE BEST MAN WIN and the forthcoming adult fantasy SILK FIRE (written as Zabé Ellor.) He holds a BA in English Lit and biology from Cornell University. When not writing, he can be found running, playing video games, and hunting the best brunch deals in Washington D.C.. Find him online at

There’s also a giveaway!

Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) copy of May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run from May 16th to May 23rd at 12 AM CST. No giveaway accounts allowed.

Giveaway Link:

You can find here the tour schedule! Check all the other amazing posts!

Pubblicato in: As Travars-Recensioni, Most anticipated

Surrender your sons by Adam Sass

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.