You know that feeling when you can’t put down a book? No matter how hard you try? That was me and Surrender Your Sons. It’s a thriller about a conversion therapy camp, but it’s also a story about friendship, queer identity, and courage. Keep reading this book review to see why I couldn’t stop reading.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: panic attacks, homophobia, suicide, self-harm, transphobia, conversion therapy
Surrender Your Sons is a thriller that took me on an emotional roller coaster. It broke my heart in a million ways and managed to put it back together again. Whether it be the intense terror of the setting, the conversion camp, the very real undercurrent of danger, and the homo/transphobia, or the moments of laughter, of friendships formed in adversity, or self-acceptance. I experienced them all throughout Surrender Your Sons. I encourage future readers to check out the trigger warnings, because I think that a lot of the tension and thriller vibes in this book revolve around the very real fear of being a queer person in this environment.
Knowing that feeling of fear of being found out and excluded. Having these fears manifest not only in reality, but in this nightmare-ish camp setting of violence, where one’s existence is denied. At time it was a little much for me and I had to step back, but I always wanted to keep reading. Surrender Your Sons is action packed, taking place over the span of a few days. It’s a story revolving around mystery and secrets. The ways we are taught to suppress our queer identities, and the ripple effects of this pain, and the journey to remove ourselves from toxic settings and relationships.
Surrender Your Sons is a tense, emotional, and fast paced book. A story about the masks of pretending. How many illusions can we surround ourselves with before they become a second skin? If we begin a journey of lies, we end up on a path of sacrifice, mirages of control, and compromises. It has moments of laughter and happiness, terror and hatred, but it’s also a story that makes you believe in resilience and love.