Release by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I found the voice of RELEASE, by Patrick Ness, immediately captivating while the story centered on Adam, but found myself at first a bit confused with the secondary storyline, although I quickly understood these two seemingly separate storylines would eventually entwine and cross paths with one another. This structure frames the story well, loosely based on, and giving literary nods to FOREVER by Judy Blume, and MRS. DALLOWAY, by Virginia Woolf. Of course, more contemporary YA works such as THE SERPENT KING, by Jeff Zentner, also come to mind among the triune circle of friends: Ness's Adam, Linus, and Angela characters.
At the heart of Release is Adam Thorn, a young man on the brink of transition between boyhood and manhood. But equally important is the internal journey he takes to identify and embrace, as fully as he knows how, his true self. Adam's true self might be as easy to discover for him as buying a single rose, unsure of his intended recipient. But as Adam wrestles with the facets that make up himself, those which are "good" or "acceptable" to the world, or to his overbearing religiously rigid family, and the other parts of himself, which seem to be "bad" or "unacceptable," parts he has kept from the public eye for fear of the consequences which have imprisoned him much of his life.
The entire story takes place within the confines of one day, and is complicated by a variety of surprises, both alarming and lovely, threats painful and stifling, and the question of how both story threads will inevitably meet. What makes this a pleasure to read, though, is the journey, the discovery, and the risk of living one's truth. Bravo to Ness and to Adam. May we all learn to risk everything for the right reasons, rather than the wrong ones. Highly, Highly recommended.
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