Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Book Review: "Yes, Daddy" by Jonathan Parks-Ramage

Wow. Jonathan Parks-Ramage's debut novel, Yes, Daddy, is thought-provoking, disturbing, and emotional commentary on the power dynamics in a relationship and how easy it is to find yourself powerless. It's a fascinating look at #MeToo from a gay man's perspective.

Jonah was raised by a religious family in a small town, where he was taught his homosexuality was something that needed to be cured. But when the therapy leads to a bigger crisis, he is able to convince his mother to let him go to graduate school, then move to NYC and pursue a career as a playwright.

Subletting a tiny room in Bushwick, working as a waiter, Jonah barely has any money or friends, and hasn't been doing much writing. When he spots a picture of famed playwright Richard Shriver, who has a fondness for handsome, muscular, younger men, Jonah formulates a plan to meet Richard and make him fall for him.

Jonah’s well-researched plan works and their relationship takes off, although Richard is a mercurial man to deal with. And when he’s invited to spend the summer in the Hamptons with Richard and his famous friends, who all live on a fancy compound, he feels like he’s finally being enveloped in a life he deserves.

But while the summer has its moments, often Jonah feels the subject of scorn and ridicule. He doesn't feel like any of Richard's friends see him as anything more than a boy-toy. Jonah notices that the compound seems to have a “staff” of young, handsome men in its “employ,” but he doesn’t get their role and they seem to tell him he doesn’t belong. But while Jonah thinks that’s motivated by jealousy, he realizes that there is something far more sinister happening at the compound, and when the dynamics of his relationship with Richard change, he sees the truth.

Yes, Daddy is a story about being victimized and how hard it can be to come to terms with that truth, it’s about revenge and the way we don’t always act in even our own best interests, it's about the role that faith plays in people's lives, and it’s a story about finding your own strength, your own self-belief and self-esteem. Parks-Ramage has written an unforgettable book, one that you’ll want—and need—to discuss.

(TW: sexual assault, violence, and thoughts of suicide)

NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

Yes, Daddy publishes on May 18.

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