Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith and Family – Garrard Conley

About the book:

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 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.

About the Author:

Garrard Conley is the author of the New York Times Best Selling memoir Boy Erased (Penguin 2016), now a major motion picture. Boy Erased was nominated for a Lamdba Literary Award and was featured as a top 2016 nonfiction book by O Magazine, Buzzfeed Books, and Shelf Awareness, among others. It has now been translated in over a dozen languages.

Conley is also a producer and creator of the podcast UnErased, which explores the history of conversion therapy in America through interviews, historical documents, and archive materials provided by the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.

A survivor of conversion therapy, Conley is an activist and speaker for Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau, lecturing at schools and venues across the country on radical compassion, writing through trauma, and growing up gay in the complicated South. He works with other activists to help end conversion therapy in the United States and abroad.

He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation Writers’ Conferences and has taught writing classes for Catapult, Sackett Street Writers Workshop, and the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown. Last year he was the memoir instructor for GrubStreet’s Memoir Incubator program. He is also a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having served in Ukraine as an ESL instructor and HIV/AIDS educator.

My Review:

Boy Erased was chosen by a member of my real life book club to read for our next meeting in September and within seconds of reading the blurb, I knew this was a book I had to read.

Garrard Conley has bravely shared his story about his childhood and family growing up in a small Southern town in America, with a Baptist pastor father and a doting mother.  His parent have high expectations for their only son and when Garrard finds himself being “outted” to his ultra-religious parents whilst in his first year of University his life takes an unexpected and disturbing turn.

Under the advice of fellow church members Garrard is sent to a church conversion therapy centre to cure him of his homosexual tendencies.  Surprisingly this doesn’t actually work (!!!) and Garrard finds himself confronting his past, his childhood and his parents and discovering who is really is.

Boy Erased is a raw and often brutal look at religion, homosexuality, family relationships, being different and being true to yourself.

Find this book on Amazon