Summary and book reviews of Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

Boy Erased

A Memoir

by Garrard Conley

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2016, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2017, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Mollie Smith Waters

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About this Book

Book Summary

A beautiful, raw and compassionate memoir about identity, love and understanding.

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 nineteen-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 institutionalized 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 heart-breaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.



MONDAY, JUNE 7, 2004

John Smid stood tall, square shouldered, beaming behind thin wire-rimmed glasses and wearing the khaki slacks and striped button-down that have become standard fatigues for evangelical men across the country. The raised outlines of his undershirt stretched taut beneath his shirt, his graying blond hair tamed by the size-five hair clippers common in Sport Clips throughout the South. The rest of us sat in a semicircle facing him, all dressed according to the program dress code outlined in our 274-page handbooks.

Men: Shirts worn at all times, including periods of sleep. T shirts without sleeves not permitted, whether worn as outer or undergarments, including "muscle shirts" or other tank tops. Facial hair removed seven days weekly. Sideburns never below top of ear.

Women: Bras worn at all times, exceptions during sleep. Skirts must fall at the knee or below. Tank tops allowed only if worn with a blouse. Legs and underarms shaved at least twice ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Boy Erased is a poignant non-fiction work. Conley’s struggle to be a good son and devoted Christian while coping with his homosexuality is powerfully explored, as is his parents’ inability to cope with their son’s sexual orientation.   (Reviewed by Mollie Smith Waters).

Full Review Members Only (577 words).

Media Reviews

Outsmart Magazine

A compelling story of perseverance and humanity.

The Washington Post

[A] powerful convergence of events that Conley portrays eloquently

LA Review of Books

Conley writes vividly, with intelligence, wit, and genuine empathy. By embracing complexity and compassion, he reclaims his life and reminds us that a story rarely belongs to one person alone.

Booklist

Closely observed feelings are the fuel that drives this complex coming-of-age account… Moving and thought provoking.

Kirkus Reviews

In a sharp and shocking debut memoir, Conley digs deep into the ex-gay therapy system… An engaging memoir that will inevitably make readers long for a more equal future.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Exceptionally well-written... This timely addition to the debate on conversion therapy will build sympathy for both children and parents who avail themselves of it while still showing how damaging it can be.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Recommended for those who appreciate open-minded thinking and value community and family

Author Blurb Maud Newton
Conley tells his story beautifully, with candor and courage and with compassion not only for the boy he was but for the parents who sent him to ex-gay therapy. Here at last is a story of evangelical homophobia from the inside, from a survivor and former believer, rather than from the incredulous outside. A vital book for young people still struggling with self-hatred inside the church and for anyone who's escaped it.

Author Blurb Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
An essential document of the early 21st Century. Conley bears witness to something history will eventually condemn as too horrible to have happened, but he also takes the pain of "ex-gay therapy" and makes of it not just a record but a wonder.

Author Blurb Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and Comfort
"In 1982, Edmund White broke literary ground with his memoir A. Now it's Garrard Conley's turn to bring his own story to readers. As White was three decades ago for his generation, Conley is an important and necessary contemporary voice.

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Beyond the Book

Restoration Path

In his memoir Boy Erased, Garrard Conley discusses both his struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality and his parents' attempt to return him to heterosexuality through Love in Action (LIA), which was renamed Restoration Path in 2012. According to the program's website, "Restoration Path is a Christian discipleship ministry that exists to restore those trapped in sexual and relational sin through the power of Jesus Christ." It further states that "Restoration Path is passionately committed to helping people discover the truth about God and about who they really are in his son Jesus. In the safety and strength of God's love men and women of all ages have found the courage to step out of destructive and life-dominating ...

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