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Miss Wain, Samworth Church Academy

Release

I will read anything that Patrick Ness writes and I will love it because I am predictable and he is wonderful. I love his characters, his style, his general ability to just make you understand and feel absolutely everything his characters think and feel.

Release, like Mrs Dalloway that partially inspired it, takes place in one day (also, wonderfully, with the protagonist mentally resolving to buy the flowers themselves). This is Adam’s Worst Day. A catalogue of Objectively Bad Things happen, but it is also the day that it begins to dawn on him that the golden (though not always plain sailing) time of his youth is drawing to a close and there are unknown, scary, grownup things looming on the horizon of adulthood.

I did feel bad for Adam. Heartbroken, rejected Adam. Adam, harassed by creeps. Adam that knows he’s not being completely present with the people that care for him. Adam that is examining his romantic life and his home life and is beginning to form the conclusion that maybe he just doesn’t deserve to be loved. He’s lost and in pain and vaguely aware that he is hurting people that don’t deserve it, so hating himself a bit more. It sounds a bit melodramatic, but doesn’t feel that way on the page. It just feels painful and raw and exhausting. I loved how authentic Adam felt- it was a very real sort of anguish that any reader would connect with.

I LOVED Adam and Angela, the BFFs relationship that really, this book is about. Tiny statured, pizza toting, bouncy Angela who is so completely honest and refreshing and fun. Such a good, wholesome, platonic love. I loved that they both really wish they were attracted to each other so could just get solve the “Finding a Life Mate” problem but no, it doesn’t work like that and you both have to suffer instead and trial and error your way through the relationship minefield like every other chump. This is where the Forever inspirations are a bit more evident. Angela is fairly open about her sexual experiences and how disappointing and unremarkable they were, how something so apparently culturally significant could just be a bit of an awkward but not particularly regrettable episode that is un-noteworthy in almost every way. Adam too is open about his sexual history, ranking somewhere between a Monk and Byron, his recollections are frank and kind of informative, without being traumatic or sensational. It’s some incredibly skillful writing.

I can’t not mention Linus, Adam’s current boyfriend. I wish we saw more of him. He was sweet and attentive and understanding, he got mad enough at the way he was being treated to show he has integrity, but was understanding enough to show that he is a Genuinely Nice Person and I just hope it works out for the two of them and what this book lets us see is a reasonably rocky day in what will become a solid and loving relationship. I liked that it is not at all a Coming Out Story, which there are approximately 3 million of. There’s unspoken knowledge that Adam’s parents know he’s gay- he knows they know, and he knows that they don’t approve and believe that it’s a choice and a sin. It doesn’t build up to a big, dramatic revelation. He isn’t learning to live with his sexuality or coming to terms with how people treat him because of it. He’s just kind of getting on with life in spite of the unfortunate reality of Religious parents who are very hypocritical in the way that they dish out carefully portion-controlled helpings of their love. It's Coming of Age, not Coming Out and it is much more complicated than who you are attracted to.

I will say that I could have 100% done without the super hench Faun and the trippy Meth Murder victim and her identity struggle with the Pond Queen, but I read this a couple of weeks ago and my brain has sort of revised the whole thing to just be Adam and his Bad Day which works much better for me.

It's such a well crafted book that wears its influences on its sleeve, features complex, crisis-surviving teenagers that feel real and authentic, and though it is bittersweet and painful, the reader does kind of come away from it feeling that things will get better.

Posted on: 4th May 2018 at 03:19 pm

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