“Deposing Nate” by Zack Smedley— The Perfect Son?

Smedley, Zack. “Deposing Nathan”, Page Street Kids, 2019.

The Perfect Son?

Amos Lassen

, Nate was the perfect son for sixteen years. This was the result of the way he was raised and his deep religious faith. Bur then he met Cam, who pushed him to break rules, dream, and accept himself. Nate was filled with and began to push back. The more he pushed, the more he and Cam became more a part of each other’s worlds…but they also spiraled closer to their breaking points. Once it all fell it apart after a fistfight-turned-near-fatal-incident, Nate is left with a stab wound and Cam is in jail. 

Nate is ordered to give a statement, under oath, that will send Cam, his best friend to prison. The problem is that what really happened between them isn’t as simple as anyone thinks. Nate must make his confessions about what led up to that night with Cam and risk tearing both of their lives apart.

When Nate meets Cam who encourages him to question rules and dare to be independent, his sheltered life begins to feel  like it is stifling him and he starts pushing back a little. As the relationship between them develops, both boys reach a breaking point and a brutal fight ensues with attempted murder charges following. The story is narrated in two separate time lines. In the first, Nate has been able to recover from being stabbed, and he spends several days giving the deposition that could send Cam to jail. It is here that a nuanced story comes out.  Several twists and turns show  the tenuous relationships between the boys and between Nate and his family and Nate’s personal struggle to accept his own identity. We read of small acts of rebellion against strict parents and traditions of faith, of Nate questioning his sexual identity, and a love triangle. This is a story about complex relationships in which the reader constantly reevaluates events.

We are reminded of the awkward and complex experiences of discovering one’s sexuality and falling in love. We are on an emotional ride as we read about love, religious belief, and self- acceptance.

Nathan is deceitful both to himself and to those he loves. He had brainwashed by his church to believe bisexuality would send him to hell and is living with his  controlling, emotionally abusive aunt Lori, his dead mother’s sister who acts as his  parent. His father is out of the picture.

 In meeting Cameron on the first day of junior year, Nate doesn’t expect to start experimenting sexually. He has a girlfriend.  Less than a year later, Nathan is being deposed at Cam’s pretrial hearing for having stabbed Nate. We see that facts aren’t always as they seem and over the next three days Nathan tells the story of his relationship with Cam and the events that led up to the hearing.

Writer Zack Smedley excellently shows the love a child feels for an abusive parent (aunt), as Nate takes on the burden of deserving the maltreatment and not realizing that Aunt Lori, the abuser is to blame.

Both Cam and Nate are seen questioning and in that experimental stage of understanding their sexualities. They were two friends trying out any form of teenage rebellion  and while sexual orientation isn’t rebellion, it felt as it was to Nate and Cam.

The story seamlessly moves back and forth between the deposition and flashbacks. Nate has flaws but he is likeable and it often hurt to read of his attempts to avoid the truths because of one event. The story itself is twisted and difficult and Nate is full of self-loathing and comes across as unsympathetic at times. The characters are complex and there is a lot to be gleaned from the story about relationships.

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