Title: Boy Erased

Author: Garrard Conley

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: William Collins

The Blurb

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.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

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.

Title: The Binding

Author: Bridget Collins

Pages: 448 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins/The Borough Press

The Blurb

Imagine you could erase your grief.

Imagine you could forget your pain.

Imagine you could hide a secret. Forever.

Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.

In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.

Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.

The Binding is an unforgettable, magical novel: a boundary-defying love story and a unique literary event.

The Review

Well this is an interesting one. The Binding by Bridget Connell is the story of how stories are made. The promise is that there are people called ‘Binders’ who will take away any bad memories and lock them securely in a book. The book will then be locked away. The only way for the people to regain their memories is if the books are burned. So far, so mystical.

We then have the main story which revolves around Emmett Farmer. He is sent to work as a binder but as the story evolves we see that he too has been bound.

I cannot lie to you, I found The Binding really difficult to get into. I wasn’t instantly lost in this world. Then something clicked and I was gone. I mean completely lost. I couldn’t put it down. It is a book that covers so many issues: class, power, LGBT. There is so much in here.

This is definitely a must read for 2019.

The Binding by Bridget Collins is available now.

For more information regarding Bridget Collins (@Br1dgetCollins) please visit www.thebindingbook.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding The Borough Press (@BoroughPress) please visit www.boroughpress.co.uk.

Title: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Author: Emily Danforth

Pages: 466 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

The night Cameron Post’s parents died, her first emotion was relief. Relief they would never know that hours earlier, she’d been kissing a girl.

Now living with her conservative Aunt in small-town Montana, hiding her sexuality and blending in becomes second nature to Cameron until she begins an intense friendship with the beautiful Coley Taylor.

Desperate to ‘correct’ her niece, Cameron’s Aunt takes drastic action.

Now Cameron must battle with the cost of being her true-self even if she’s not completely sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a real eye-opener of a book. I’ve always known that the LGBT community have a hard time of things but what Emily Danforth has done is written a story that shows the truly insidious nature of what some families will do to make sure that their child stops ‘being gay’.

Whilst I enjoyed The Miseducation of Cameron Post I did find the story quite slow paced. It took me much longer than it normally would to read the whole book.

I would recommend this story though. It really does make you aware of how much being a lesbian or being gay is still seen as a negative thing in middle-America.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth is available now.

For more information regarding Emily Danforth (@emdanforth) please visit www.emdanforth.com.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Beau, Lee, the Bomb and Me

Author: Mary McKinley

Pages: 252 Pages

Publisher: Kensington Books

The Blurb

When Beau transferred to our school. I thought: “Good; fresh meat.” Because I knew he would be tormented the entire time he was at Baboon High. Like I am. All day. . .every day.

Growing up is a trip. . .

In high school, there are few worse crimes than being smart or fat. Lucky me, I’m both. But when Beau Gales blows in to town, it takes about two minutes for the jackasses at our Seattle school to figure out he’s gay, and that makes him an even bigger target. Have you ever heard the saying: ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’? There’s something to that.

When the bullying gets violent and Beau decides to run away to San Francisco to ask his Uncle Frankie for advice, we all go. Beau, me, Leonie (designated class slut), and a scruffy rescue dog called The Bomb—a tribe of misfits crammed into my mom’s minivan. Throw in a detour to the Twilight town of Forks, armed robbery, cool record shops, confessions, breakups and makeups, and you have the kind of journey that can change the way you look at the whole world—and yourself.

The Review

High school is hard. I know this as a) someone who attended high school and b) as someone who now works in a high school. It was difficult for me and someone who had a fairly typical upbringing but it must be even harder if you are an outsider, or the kids who is considered to be a bit easy or to be the new kid who happens to be gay. These three character types are present in Beau, Lee, the Bomb and Me, the sensational novel by Mary McKinley.

The story centres on Rusty (the Outsider), she is your classic overweight girl who just tries to get through high school. Her two best friends Lee (the Easy One) and Beau (the Gay One) are her support system. Without them she would be lost and lonely. When Beau is attacked in a heinous hate crime and decides to leave, Rusty decides to go with him and Lee tags along for the ride.

They head towards San Francisco because Beau believes life will be better for him there. Along the way they discover the delights of driving across America alongside discovering things about themselves.

Beau, Lee, the Bomb and Me is a classic coming of age story (which is one of my two favourite types of story and it is a classic road trip story (my other favourite kind). Combined, there was no way I was going to hate this novel. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I bloody loved it. I loved how McKinley created these characters that one the outside, to other people they seemed like a motley crew of misfits but actually it was just the narrow minded attitude of others that needed a reality check.

Beau, Lee, the Bomb and Me is a combination of great story telling, loveable characters and history lesson and I would and will recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

Beau, Lee, the Bomb and Me by Mary McKinley is available now.

For more information regarding Kensington Books (@KensingtonBooks) please visit www.kensingtonbooks.com.

Title: Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)

Author: LC Rosen

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

‘My first time getting it in the butt was kind of weird. I think it’s going to be weird for everyone’s first time, though.’

Meet Jack Rothman. He’s seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys – sometimes all at the same time.

His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, ‘it could be worse’.

He doesn’t actually expect that to come true.

But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he’s been getting take a turn for the creepy.

Jack’s secret admirer knows everything: where he’s hanging out, who he’s sleeping with, who his mum is dating.

They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they’ll force him.

As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous…

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Firstly, I would like to thank Simon Armstrong at Penguin Books for sending me a copy of Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by LC Rosen.

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is the LGBT story for the modern teen. The story follows Jack, an out an proud teenager who is unashamedly himself. He loves his friends, his mother and he loves…well likes…well tolerates high school. It would be remiss for us not to accept that high school can be a cruel place especially if you are perceived as different or not following the social “norm”.

Jack is asked by his best friend to start a help column for her blog about relationships. She gives him autonomy to talk about anything and everything, the more bodacious the better. Jack agrees (somewhat reluctantly) but starts to enjoy the act of helping others even if it is causing controversy in school.

While all this is happening Jack starts to receive love notes posted anonymously in his locker. At first he writes it off as a joke but when the notes start getting insidious and threatening, Jack begins to get scared. It is now a race to find out who is sending the notes before the anonymous person starts acting on their threats.

I absolutely loved Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by LC Rosen. It is an exciting and bold novel that I feel is set to lead the way for future LGBT YA stories. Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) takes braver steps than any LGBT YA fiction than I have ever read before and whilst it is arguable that this genre has taken a massive step up over the past few years it is hard to argue that Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) is on the same level. It leaves them all trailing behind due mostly to its honesty and how it deals with the issue of sex.

For anyone who is struggling with their sexuality and how they are perceived in a society that is not necessarily accepting of difference then this book, for them, will be a game changer. I can honestly say that I have never read a book so bold, brave and bolshie. I loved it.

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by LC Rosen is available now.

For more information regarding LC Rosen (@LevACRosen) please visit www.LevACRosen.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Books (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.