Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Yes, Daddy by Jonathan Parks-Ramage

Yes, Daddy
by Jonathan Parks-Ramage 
Published: May 18th 2021 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A propulsive, scorching modern gothic, Yes, Daddy follows an ambitious young man who is lured by an older, successful playwright into a dizzying world of wealth and an idyllic Hamptons home where things take a nightmarish turn.

Jonah Keller moved to New York City with dreams of becoming a successful playwright, but, for the time being, lives in a rundown sublet in Bushwick, working extra hours at a restaurant only to barely make rent. When he stumbles upon a photo of Richard Shriver—the glamorous Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and quite possibly the stepping stone to the fame he craves—Jonah orchestrates their meeting. The two begin a hungry, passionate affair.

When summer arrives, Richard invites his young lover for a spell at his sprawling estate in the Hamptons. A tall iron fence surrounds the idyllic compound where Richard and a few of his close artist friends entertain, have lavish dinners, and—Jonah can’t help but notice—employ a waitstaff of young, attractive gay men, many of whom sport ugly bruises. Soon, Jonah is cast out of Richard’s good graces and a sinister underlay begins to emerge. As a series of transgressions lead inexorably to a violent climax, Jonah hurtles toward a decisive revenge that will shape the rest of his life.

Riveting, unpredictable, and compulsively readable, Yes, Daddy is an exploration of class, power dynamics, and the nuances of victimhood and complicity. It burns with weight and clarity—and offers hope that stories may hold the key to our healing.

5 Stars

Powerful men, desperate young adults, and the twisted lies that take them from beside the pool partying to a drug-filled dungeon. Yes, Daddy follows Jonah, an aspiring, but poor writer, as he takes his chance to become the newest hot young thing on famed Richard Shriver's arm. He meets to all of Richard's influential friends, is spoiled with money and clothing, and soon taken on a summer trip he could only dream of before. But what started as a passionate, tumultuous relationship soon turns into a nightmare Jonah could never have imagined.

I am a dark reads lover, most often I love to see a novel from a f'ed up villain perspective, but I also love the journey of an individual into and out of the darkness. Yes, Daddy is one of the darkest, but also provocative, relevant, and heavy novels I have had the pleasure of reading. A work of fiction that captures true-to-life experiences in an honest, gritty way. Jonathan Parks-Ramage doesn't hide away from the raw, harsh truth of evil sugar daddies and the young men they prey upon. It's a me too novel at a time when society still shies away from recognizing that rape and abuse affects young men, too. It also touches on the negative religious upbringings that many LGBTQ+ come from and the continuing fear and self-hatred that follows.

What really works for this novel though, beyond being so relatable, is how Parks-Ramage presents the story. His writing is descriptive and we are given glimpses into the past and present from the perspective of Jonah. His emotions spill from the page, leaving me cringing in horror at times and literally crying the entire last 25% of the book. More than a thriller, Parks-Ramage delivers a gay gothic drama that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. From brazen fun to vicious cruelty, Yes, Daddy is a compelling, powerful read that I cannot recommend enough. If you can handle the darkness, this is the book to dive into.

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