Adam Sass' debut YA novel "Surrender Your Sons" is a thrilling tale of queer rebellion
Surrender Your Sons' Connor Major could be any of us. A teenager who is just trying to live his life, spend time with his boyfriend, and dream about the future. However, when Ricky, the man he delivers meals to, dies and leaves him a cryptic note, his life is about to change drastically. His mother, concerned about Connor's queerness, has him kidnapped and taken to a conversion therapy camp in South America. Nightlight Ministries, operated by Connor's own hometown pastor, is a waking Stepford nightmare, but things are often more complicated than they seem. Along with Molly, the lesbian teen he was kidnapped with, and a group of resilient LGBTQ teens, Connor makes it his mission to dismantle the camp and get the hell back to the real world. Along the way, there's an event that rocks everyone and everything at the camp, mysteries are revealed, and difficult choices must be made.
Writer Adam Sass has been a staple on queer Twitter for years and is a frequent co-host on the popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast Slayerfest98. In Surrender Your Sons, his wonderfully smart and snarky voice shines through, as he delivers moments of humor juxtaposed against deadly serious subject matter. SYS has bite, but also a lot of heart. The novel is filled with interesting characters, from the deliberate and cunning queer teen Darcy, to sweet and thoughtful Marco, to the truly frightening Reverend.
Conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that has hurt countless LGBTQ people, including many queer men I have met since living in the South. Right now, there are still 30 states that allow conversion therapy is some form or another. That right there is downright chilling. Sass did not attend a convesion camp himself but was inspired to tackle the subject after seeing the documentary, Kidnapped for Christ, and copious amounts of research thereafter. There are scary things in this world, but conversion therapy is something unique to the LGBTQ community, and something that has damaged so many young and adult lives along the way. In SYS, Connor is determined not to become a statistic or let this insidious practice define or change him or his friends.
If you love the sensibility of Young Adult novels combined with mysteries or thrillers, you'll want to add Surrender Your Sons to your list. Available now wherever you buy your books.