Title: Boy Erased
Author: Garrard Conley
Pages: 352 Pages
Publisher: William Collins
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.
Last year, I saw Garrard Conley give an interview on British television. His story was so compelling that is almost didn’t seem true. Alas, it was. No, it is. The stories of camps where a person can go to ‘pray away the gay’ are becoming more and more familiar. They are being discussed in YA fiction, movies and sadly, they really exist.
Garrard Conley does not spare any of the details of how he came to attend the camp in his memoir Boy Erased, how he felt guilty for being gay, how he felt he needed to be cured. Due to his deep set religious beliefs, he was made – and to some extent, made himself – feel wrong.
This is an amazing and challenging memoir that throws you right into the fray from page one. You feel uncomfortable and you get a real sense of going through what Conley went through. It is brutally honest and, at times, very hard to read but it is definitely a memoir to add to your reading list.
Boy Erased by Garrard Conley is available now.
For more information regarding Garrard Conley (@gayrodcon) please visit www.garrardconley.com.
For more information regarding William Collins (@WmCollinsBooks) please visit their Twitter page.