A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Families who read this book together will enjoy discussing what they think actually happened, and what didn't. The vocabulary will push teen readers.
Readers will be struck by the hardships that Gabriel must deal with -- and how his brain decides to deal with them.
Positive Role Models
Readers will pity the tortured Gabriel, who eventually realizes he must stop Finnigan.
Violence & Scariness
One of the narrators seems to be dying of a gruesome degenerative disease, which is described in some detail. Murder with a hatchet, arson, the shooting of a dog. Children are beaten with belts and sticks by parents. A child accidentally kills his disabled brother by putting him in an unused refrigerator.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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One use of "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen smoking, beer drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that one of the protagonists in this award-winning read is apparently dying of a gruesome degenerative disease, and as a child accidentally killed his disabled older brother -- and may have killed his parents as well. The other protagonist is an arsonist. There is some smoking and drinking. The language and ideas are compelling -- but tricky for younger teens. Parents may want to read with their kids and discuss the book together.
Is It Any Good?
This lyrical novel, a psychological thriller told in gorgeous prose poetry, has an ending worthy of M. Night Shyamalan, though considerably more confusing. That ending will have readers paging back through this bizarre story to try to figure out what was real, and what wasn't. And even then they won't find all the answers.
Tolerance for ambiguity, then, is one of the prerequisites for enjoying this book. The author has said she doesn't really write for children. There's not much that would be considered objectionable for teens, but it won't be to all of their tastes. At the same time, many adults will enjoy SURRENDER, and shouldn't miss it because it's being sold in the children's section -- with shimmering prose, a uniquely strange plot, and that surprising, confusing ending, this will be a joy to some and frustrating to others.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.