Release by Patrick Ness
Publication Date September 19, 2017
Summary from Goodreads:
Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.
Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.
But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.
I love Patrick Ness’s writing style. It is crisp and not overly stylized and always different. It is how people talk and think. His characters always seem so real and honest. He states in the preface that he based this book on his own experiences growing up and on two books, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolf and Judy Blume’s Forever. I have not read either of these books, but that did not diminish my enjoyment of this book. In fact it makes me want to read them. I may have read Mrs. Dalloway in high school but that is so long ago, I can’t remember for sure.
Adam is a struggling young man that I really sympathized with. I remember having many of the same feelings and thoughts when I was his age. The feeling of not ever being good enough for your parents is a hard one to get past, and add on their religious agenda and it gets almost impossible. Adam’s struggles through out this one day in his life, possibly the worst day ever, does end eventually with the release and the knowledge that it will eventually work out in the future.
Adam has some great friends in Angela and the two girls he works with Karen and Renee. They all help him figure things out and help him stand up for himself when he has all that self doubt. Angela is especially a notable character. She is open and frank when she talks to Adam, she holds nothing back. She makes him face his fears and his doubts head on and deal with them.
Adam’s family is a difficult one to like. They don’t accept him as he is, they don’t ever say this out right but you can see and feel it through their actions and words how disappointed they are in him. The scene between him and his father is a very powerful one, and it is the start of not acceptance but at least of acknowledgement that they can’t change who he is. The family dynamics between Adam and his older brother Marty are interesting as well. I think Marty wants to accept Adam, but struggles with the religious side of it.
We only hear about Enzo, Adam’s ex, through memories and remarks from Angela, until the party at the end of the book. He does not present as a particularly nice person, especially in the way he ended things with Adam. But Adam can’t seem to let him go and move on. Linus (love that name) is gentle and willing to wait for Adam to move on, but you can tell that he is beginning to get tired of Adam’s need to hold on to Enzo. I love the scenes between the two of them. They are very tender and emotional and you end up wanting to shake Adam until he sees sense.
Running alongside Adam’s story is the story of a ghost/supernatural being, that needs release too. The ghost is of a girl who was recently murdered in town, whose spirit has merged with a supernatural being that keeps the world together. It is hard to explain without giving to much away. Through out most of the book, this story and Adam’s don’t really interact or appear to have anything to do with each other, but if you stop to really read the ghost’s story you start to see how they relate on a much deeper level until they cross at the end.
This is a beautifully written story about love, family and finding your place in the world. Adam’s relationships with his boyfriends, both past and present, are well done and not at all overly romanticized. The sex is realistic and frank which is refreshing and much needed in YA literature. Sex and relationships can be quite messy and painful both physically and emotionally. It is nice to see it so well done. A great book about a very hard and emotional day for a young man struggling to find his place in the world. I highly recommend it to everyone.