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Summary

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, and written and directed by Joel Edgerton.

The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small-town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.

When Garrard was a 19-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to 'cure' him of homosexuality or risk losing family, friends and the god he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalised twelve-step program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.

By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heartbreaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.

©2018 Garrard Conley (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"This brave and bracing memoir is an urgent reminder that America remains a place where queer people have to fight for their lives. It’s also a generous portrait of a family in which the myths of prejudice give way before the reality of love. Equal parts sympathy and rage, Boy Erased is a necessary, beautiful book." (Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You)

"A brave, powerful meditation on identity and faith, Boy Erased is the story of one man’s journey to accepting himself and overcoming shame and trauma in the midst of deep-rooted bigotry." (Buzzfeed)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Powerful book for anyone interested in the subject of gay conversion camps

An amazing book that at times, made me really sad and just blown away by the cruelty and massively outdated opinions garrard and many others have endured at these camps. The book tackles views that need to be abolished from society.

The book also made me infinitely thankful that my mum supported and accepted me, regardless of my sexual orientation.

A definite must read! Can’t wait to see the film!

3 people found this helpful

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Compelling story but the narration style is trite

The narration is good and the story is undeniably compelling. it reminds us of what lack of empathy, acceptance and a wrong sense of rightness can do! But the book narration and style feels trite and at times incapable of conveying the depth of this personal journey. I apploude the author for his courage, though!

1 person found this helpful

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Beautifully written, but so much missing

Conley's memoir of a short (albeit significant) period of his life is a gorgeous read. His prose is delicious and I would be gripped by his use of language even if he were describing the drying of paint.

And that's where the novel falls down. A lot of style with very little substance. The opening and close are moving and electric, while the middle of the book is padded. His harrowing tale is not new to me. I've read much on the ex gay movement and I've come across experiences far more shocking and heartbreaking than Conley's (I know it's not a competition over who endures the most pain). But his two weeks in the Love in Action program as essentially an outpatient is hardly the stuff of legend.

When he focuses on his own inner struggle or when his discusses his relationship with his parents, particularly his father, the novel truly comes to life.

He admits that much of the details are drawn from a spotty memory and this shows in his poetic licence. Some moments feel too convenient, others feel forced or crowbarred into a loose plot.

The short epilogue hints at his 10 year struggle after his ex-gay therapy experience, and this ten years of turmoil, suicide attempts, his exploration of gay relationships, etc. all sounds far more interesting than all that went before it. I'm sure we'll get a sequel when he has had time to analyse this part of his life further, and I'll likely read that too.

1 person found this helpful

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heartbreaking

really is a good listen. 👍 narrator grows on you. becomes addictive as you just want to know what happens

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Good listen

Good listen, however I found it hard to keep up with the story at times.