Tag Archives: rec of the week

Recommendation of the Week: Surrender Your Sons

Adam Sass’s debut novel, a young adult queer thriller, is the perfect read for to kick off your Spook-tober. Surrender Your Sons follows Connor Major, a recently out gay teenager who is isolated in a small town in Illinois.

His only salvation from the Reverend who has taken over every inch of his tiny town, including his mother, is his boyfriend, Ario, and his weekly Meals on Wheels delivery to a disabled patient, Ricky Hannigan.

Unfortunately for Connor, his mother and the Reverend discover he uses his Meals on Wheels trips to also see his boyfriend, and put him under strict house arrest.

It’s not long after this that his mother willingly has him kidnapped and taken to a secret island in the middle of Costa Rica with the hopes that when he comes back, he’ll no longer be gay.

Even worse, Connor soon learns that the Reverend is at the center of this horrible conspiracy, his power looming even larger on the island, as Connor tries to unravel the mystery thanks to a clue from Ricky.

Conversion therapy and its many sins and cruelty are the throughline of Surrender Your Sons. Sass does a masterful job of proving that, despite the loss of focus on the topic, conversion therapy has never gone away; it’s just better at hiding itself.

With the dramatic Lost setting and Wilder Girls vibes, Surrender Your Sons threads plenty of tension and mystery on top of the devastation, making it so that readers keep turning the page, even as the realities become more gruesome.

But even though much of the queer experience for many people (both on the page and off) can be traumatic and violent, Sass also weaves in a powerful narrative of queer resilience, joy, strength, and love.

When Connor makes it onto the island, he learns he’s not the only person in his situation, eventually having to choose whether to save himself, or work with the other teens to defeat the Reverend and escape together.

This includes a blooming romance with another camper, Marcos. Unlike Ario, who pressured Connor to come out before he was ready, unwittingly putting him in danger, Marcos and Connor have matching scars.

Beyond the numerous beautiful and powerful queer themes, Surrender Your Sons is a masterful thriller and mystery, begging to be read and re-read with its numerous breadcrumbs and easter eggs and incredible supporting cast. You can get your copy today at your local library or wherever books are sold.


Buy your copy of Surrender Your Sons here to support independent bookstores.

Disclaimers: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Recommendation of the Week: Hillary

There are still a few days left in Women’s History Month, so we may as well recognize the woman who came closest to breaking that “highest and hardest glass ceiling” by winning the popular vote in 2016.

The new docuseries Hillary on Hulu examines Hillary Rodham Clinton with unprecedented access and provides new insight into her political campaigns, career, and private life. Regardless of what you think of Hillary as a person, she has paved the way for future female leaders and that deserves credit.

Read more of my thoughts on the docuseries for Culturess.


Recommendation of the Week: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Okay, so my recommendation for you this week isn’t exactly new. In fact, Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on the long-departed The WB network nearly a quarter of a century ago. Buffy is by no means a perfect show and it hasn’t aged well in some ways (it is painfully white), but it is nonetheless extremely meaningful to television, the first show to blend genre and mythos with humanity in such a thoughtful way.

Because of this, Buffy is the perfect show to binge right now while self-isolating, or while dealing with generalized anxiety around the Covid-19 crisis. Whether you’re looking for catharsis or escapism, Buffy Summers is your girl. Read more of my thoughts at Culturess.


Recommendation of the Week: Shrill


Shrill‘s newest season dropped January 24 on Hulu. In the current media landscape with more content than ever before, it can be easy to miss shows, even ones that are as good as Aidy Bryant and Lindy West’s love child. If you haven’t yet watched Shrill, now is the time to dive in, with the first two episodes of the series available to watch for free on YouTube for a limited time.

I wrote a full review of the season for Culturess (spoiler–I loved it) and a personal essay about the second season’s WAHAM episode. Take a look and let me know what you think of Annie’s continued adventures.


Recommendation of the Week: The Fall

Police procedurals about white male serial killers murdering white women are a dime-a-dozen these days. Shows that were once inventive and the best of the genre are either over or tired (Law & Order, CSI, etc.).

Enter The Fall, a British drama about two hunters, a serial killer, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), and the police officer, Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), trying to catch him. The beautiful Belfast, Ireland provides an antithetical backdrop for the horrific crimes. Additionally, Gibson must battle sexism, politics, and her own psyche as she closes in on the killer.

Don’t expect any stereotypically dramatic scenes of frustration or fear from Anderson’s Gibson as she solves the crime. Gibson is completely in control of her emotions, of her surroundings, of her sexuality at any given time. Gillian Anderson gives a quiet and subtle performance of a complex woman who understands the implications of what it means to be a woman in power who shows her emotions.

Contrary to many similar shows, the identity of the killer is not a secret to the viewer. We get to know the criminal as well as the police. Spector is a husband and father. He works as a bereavement counselor. He’s handsome and charming. …he also stalks and kills young women. The Fall utilizes Jamie Dornan’s physicality and good looks as a way to mess with the viewers’ perceptions. Many scenes with Dornan have no dialogue and are acted entirely through facial expressions.

The second season of The Fall dropped on Netflix Friday. The whole series is only 11 episodes so you can easily binge-watch it before Fifty Shades of Grey comes out on Valentine’s Day. It is unknown as to whether there will be a third season.

Have you already watched The Fall? Just now starting? Hurry up and finish. I need to talk about that ending.