Two estranged childhood friends find themselves on parallel paths to return to the site of the conversion therapy camp that tore them apart.
"Two conversion therapy survivors go back to the site of their trauma, hoping the truth will set them free . . . This satisfyingly nuanced story tackles sexuality and spiritual abuse, offering connection and redemption."
—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review
"Award-winning author Lucy Jane Bledsoe's latest novel is focused on the life-saving friendship—and escape—of queer teens who meet at a Christian conversion camp. It's enraging, heartbreaking, satisfying and an important read for our times."
DELIA BARNES AND ERNEST WRANGHAM met as teens at Celebration Camp, a church-supported conversion therapy program—the dubious, unscientific, Christian practice meant to change a person’s sexuality. After witnessing a devastating tragedy, they escaped in the night, only to take separate roads to their distant homes.
They have no idea how each has fared through the years. Delia is a college basketball coach who prides herself on being an empowering and self-possessed role model for her players. But when she gets fired from her elite East Coast college, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Rockside, Oregon, to coach at her high school alma mater.
Ernest, meanwhile, is a renowned poet with a temporary teaching job in Portland, Oregon. His work has always been boundary-pushing, fearless. But the poem he’s most wanted to write—about his dangerous escape from Celebration Camp—remains stubbornly out of reach.
Both persist in the mission to overcome the consequences and inhumane costs of conversion therapy. As events find them hurtling toward each other once again, they both grapple with the necessity of remaining steadfast in one’s truth, no matter how slippery that can be. Tell the Rest is a powerful novel about coming to terms, with family, history, violence, loss, sexuality, and ultimately, with love.
“Decades after they escape from a church-supported conversion therapy program, two old friends reunite as adults and come to terms with their shared trauma.”
—New York Times Book Review
"Writing in a graceful, fluid style, Bledsoe examines life in Rockside in all its dimensions while revealing how Delia makes peace with a traumatic time of her past. Delia's reconnecting with Ernest, who bonded with her during camp and is now an accomplished poet, gives the novel a definite upbeat tone and message. Both insightful and page-turning; highly recommended."
—Library Journal, STARRED Review
"For the two enthralling queer protagonists in author Lucy Jane Bledsoe's just-published novel, they have lived a life scarred by their time in a Christian conversion camp, each bearing the enduring weight of psychological pain and torment . . . Through her characters, Bledsoe, a Lambda Literary and Ferro-Grumley Award finalist, digs down into the deep wounds and enduring trauma of conversion therapy victims and directly addresses issues of spiritual abuse. Never sugarcoating her subject matter, Bledsoe's novel channels the need for queer people to confront and combat the encroaching influence of the Christian Right in America from every angle possible."
—Bay Area Reporter, Winter Review
“In Berkeley author Lucy Jane Bledsoe's explosive new novel, two mixed-race childhood friends reunite after enduring a summer spent at a Christian conversion camp . . . The story becomes a powerful reading experience on the resilience, determination, and personal pride required for queer survival. Bledsoe clearly demonstrates a knack for dialogue and swift plotting, and the reality of the theme itself will hit home for many readers.”
—Bay Area Reporter
"Two queer people who escaped Christian conversion therapy as teens find their way back to each other as adults in the keenly observed latest from Bledsoe . . . Bledsoe paints an engrossing and complicated picture of small-town life and queer survival . . . a triumph of compassion."
“Delia and Ernest are beautiful, complicated characters, and their journey is important for readers to witness, as it also gives voice to voiceless victims of conversion torture.”
"Tell the Rest is anchored by a series of subtle moments that give the novel gravitas without weighing it down."“A multilayered gem of a novel, polished, intelligent, and moving. Tell the Rest deftly explores courage, drive, happiness, sexuality, love, and more in a riveting story that whisks readers along to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. I could not put it down.”
—Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times best-selling author of The Last Train to London
“I feel privileged to have had an early read of Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s Tell the Rest. It’s an important book with a story we need now about the horrors of conversion therapy and adult survivors of childhood trauma. And it’s a timely book with an urgent exploration of issues including gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, and family. But mostly it’s also a character-driven novel full of basketball, high school escapades, cats who cannot be caged, academics who cannot behave, love for booksellers and bookstores, and indeed love for all kinds of people who need it, which is to say all of us. I enjoyed it beginning to end.”
—Laurie Frankel, New York Times best-selling author of One Two Three
“Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s new novel is a revelation as it skillfully unfurls the lives of three characters—two white, one Black—who’ve meant psychic and literal survival to each other. Bledsoe draws a hard-edged picture of what abuse adults are willing to perpetrate on children who don’t fit their mold. Her tender yet precise debriding of the resultant wounds is an accomplishment that will stay with you. Tell the Rest is heartbreaking, chilling, and ultimately triumphant.”
—Jewelle Gomez, Lambda Award–winning author of The Gilda Stories
“I soared through the delicately orchestrated pages of this novel. Tell the Rest asks the reader many things, but mainly it asks each of us to learn how to fly, to leap beyond words. The reader’s heart is broken, but not the music that the story creates or the challenges of building new landscapes for these incredible characters—sexual, physical, emotional. This is the Lucy Jane Bledsoe novel one lives for, a novel that not only touches the parts that burn but the ways we heal each other even in the silences.”
—Jerry Thompson, coeditor of Berkeley Noir
“Tell the Rest is the story of two bruised people—a girls’ basketball coach and a poet—who are finding their feet, and finding their way back to friendship, years after the shared trauma of a religious conversion therapy camp. It’s beautifully told, unsentimental, and every character in it feels like someone I know, someone utterly real. This is a literary novel that could change lives. I can’t wait to put it into the hands of all my friends!”
—Molly Gloss, author of Unforeseen
“With a very special and intense appeal to readers with an interest in LGBTQ fiction, Tell the Rest is an extraordinary and compelling read from cover to cover. One of those riveting novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf, Tell The Rest is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic Contemporary Literary Fiction and LGBTQ Fiction collections.”
“Twenty-five years ago, Delia and Ernest escaped together from a conversion therapy camp. Both reckon with the power of friendship in the face of trauma.”
—Local News Matters