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
Two conversion therapy survivors go back to the site of their trauma, hoping the truth will set them free.
Delia Barnes, 38, returns to her Oregon hometown after her wife leaves her and she’s fired from her coaching job at a Massachusetts college. Is this a fresh start or a reversion to adolescence? After all, she’ll be the girls’ basketball coach at her old high school, Rockside, where her ex-boyfriend Jonas is principal and her brother, Dylan, a custodian. The whole area harbors troubling memories. Twenty-five years ago, Pastor Cody Quade found her kissing a girl named Shawna in New Day Church’s basement and arranged for her to be sent to Celebration Camp, where she was subjected to conversion therapy until she—with Ernest Wrangham and Cal, two other gay teenagers—ran away. Ernest, too, has been drawn back to Oregon as an adult; every few chapters, the novel cuts to his perspective. A poet with a boyfriend back in Brooklyn, he’s in Portland for a year to teach at Lewis & Clark College. These two central characters orbit each other, and the camp, as they come to terms with the spiritual abuse they suffered there. “Basketball as addiction” fuels Delia’s anger issues and means her self-esteem relies on a state championship win. Yet redemption sneaks in by other means—she shows compassion to her players and accepts the new pastor’s friendship. There are no simple recovery narratives here. Flashbacks fill in Delia and Ernest’s past, long withholding the worst of what happened at Celebration Camp to maintain tension. The compelling leads, engaging blow-by-blows of basketball games, and small-town feuds ground a heartening, issues-driven book. Secondary characters shine, too: nonbinary student Mickey; philosophical janitor Robin; even Ernest’s cats, Virginia Woolf and Audre Lorde.
This satisfyingly nuanced story tackles sexuality and spiritual abuse, offering connection and redemption.