Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Book Review: Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Deposing Nathan
Author: Zack Smedley
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: FFBC Tours / Publisher
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Content Screening: Violence; Adult Language/Topics

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Everyone. Literally everyone. This book is so important, and it needs to be in all the hands.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
For sixteen years, Nate was the perfect son—the product of a no-nonsense upbringing and deep spiritual faith. Then he met Cam, who pushed him to break rules, dream, and accept himself. Conflicted, Nate began to push back. With each push, the boys became more entangled in each others’ worlds...but they also spiraled closer to their breaking points. And now all of it has fallen apart after a fistfight-turned-near-fatal-incident—one that’s left Nate with a stab wound and Cam in jail.

Now Nate is being ordered to give a statement, under oath, that will send his best friend to prison. The problem is, the real story of what happened between them isn’t as simple as anyone thinks. With all eyes on him, Nate must make his confessions about what led up to that night with Cam…and in doing so, risk tearing both of their lives apart.

I have only just read the last page of Deposing Nathan, and I am already writing this review. If you know anything about my reviewing style, you'll know that's a rare occurrence. However this book affected me so deeply, and I have so many things flying through my head, that I have to write them down. It's necessary. So if half of this review descends into a babbling, incoherent mess just know that's because those are my exact emotions at this point. This book was raw. It was beautiful. It was devastating. I'm an exhausted, emotional mess, and I'm not even upset about it.

The way that this book unabashedly explores so many moral quandaries that most YA generally tends to avoid, is what really hooked me in. From the beginning, this is a story that isn't afraid to talk about the big things. See, Nate was raised in a family that is very religious. His relationship with God is one in which he strongly believes that anything outside of what the church teaches will lead him on the wrong path. To his aunt and his father, Nate is a good boy. He attends church regularly, gets good grades, has the perfect girlfriend, and is pretty much your all around average teen. There isn't anything else he wants in his life. Until, that is, he meets Cam.

As I watched these two meet for the first time, and their relationship started to evolve, I was helpless to look away. Smedley hasn't just created flat characters in Nate and Cam. Oh, no. These two are probably the most introspective teens that I have ever met in my life. They know that they have flaws. They acknowledge them, and mull through them, and fight all the battles inside that we've all been through at some point right there on the page. Some of Nate's thoughts, especially once he suspects that he might have actual feelings for Cam, are brutal. When his aunt reacts to his new feelings with anger, and eventually descends into physical violence to keep them apart, you'd be hard pressed not to want to gather this boy into your arms and hug him until it stops hurting. I cried, friends. I bawled. I'm not going to lie to you. There is nothing on these pages to stand between Nate and Cam's emotions, and yours. Yet, I wouldn't have it any other way.

There are simply perfect moments in this book. Snapshots full of smiles and love. Snapshots of confusion and anger. It's like watching someone grow up right in front of you, with all the messiness that brings. Then, just when I thought that this book couldn't possibly impress me any further, the ending elegantly tackled the idea of toxic relationships in a way that made me start to sob all over again. We live in this book filled world of happy endings, and perfectly tied bows. Unfortunately, as we all well know, that's not normally how life works. The ending of this book was perfection, because it wraps things up in a way that feels realistic. The last few paragraphs of this book will get you, and you'll be thinking about them for hours afterwards. Trust me on this.

When I started this review, I was so concerned about being able to fairly portray to you how impressive and important this book is. I'm tearing up thinking about my journey, and how essential this book will be for so many people. Zack Smedley has written something special. This is a book about self acceptance, and self worth. It's a book about the relationship between strict religious upbringing and self discovery. It's a story about family, love, and growing up. This story is big, and brave, and brings such an important voice to the current YA space.

I'll leave you with a quote, because I don't know what else to say. Well, no actually, I'll end by saying that I recommend this book with every single last fiber of my being. Please, read this.

"If you think you have to earn enough points on someone's rubric for them to accept you, then either you're wrong to assume they won't love you for who you are, or they never loved you in the first place."

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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