Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book had me all over the universe of emotions. I read it for a friend who recently came out of the closet, and he identified closely with this author’s religious and severe background. As both a Christian and outsider to same-sex attraction, these are my most prominent take-aways.
Garrard spent a whopping total of EIGHT days in a conversion program, and while this program was demoralizing and most certainly traumatic, I can’t wrap my mind around the concept that the following ten years were spent lost and broken because of EIGHT days. I spent FOUR YEARS under the iron fist of an independent, fundamentalist college, and THAT broke me. To be frank, I felt like Conley was just whining about his lot in life. It wasn’t that he was trying to please God, it was that he was trying to please his PARENTS. He allowed his view of God to be shaped by people, not by who God actually is. Obviously this is a product of humankind- myself included. When life gives us lemons, we believe God sucks. When life gives us skittles and sunflowers, we agree God is good.
Another takeaway was Conley’s overall personality. I know I take for granted his religious upbringing. Obviously being the offspring of a brimstone and hellfire Christian will take its toll on any soul, but he was urinating on his carpet as a kid. That’s pretty messed up. Kind of beyond what I consider the bounds of depressed behavior. Why couldn’t he talk about it? Why is everyone so hush-hush? Be bold! Be courageous for God’s sake. Out of the entire book, Conley’s most admirable action was the moment he grew some cajones and walked out of LIA.
While my friend described this book as being like someone opening a window in a stuffy room, I compared it to someone strapping a bowling ball to my leg and then throwing me off a cliff into a deep ravine. I’m no foreigner to depression, and this had me spiraling back into a sad, dark hole. I would have LOVED to see more hope at the end. Instead, it was like he just threw up his hands, pointed a giant finger at LIA, and said, “Yeah, I’m still pretty screwed up because of this place, but, fortunately, ten years later, I’m a little better.”
I’d love to know- was he able to reconcile his gay lifestyle and his relationship with God? Tell me more about THAT! What was it like growing up? Sure, we have a string of sexual fantasies flooding pages and pages of floral descriptions written in a series of unchronological passages meant to confuse us, but what were his other external challenges? Was he teased? In school, were gay people constantly harassed? If he knew his girlfriend’s brother was gay, why didn’t he develop a kinship with him?
I don’t understand his maudlin choices, even after reading the book cover to cover.
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My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books/Series of All Time:
1. Dawn of Wonder
by Jonathan Renshaw
My favorite of favorites. This book transcends age, gender, and genre. Its protagonist, twelve-year-old Aedan transforms through a series of adventures and challenges. Packed with unique storytelling and line after line of highlightable wisdom, I’d recommend this to anyone.
2. Lirael and Abhorsen
by Garth Nix
Sit back kids and get comfy. When I read this, I didn’t move for two full days. Fast-pace adventure, magic, detail, incredible world-building and memorable characters. This is true book candy.
3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Need I say anything about this? Oh, and for all of you that have only seen the movies but not read the books- you have my full condemnation. No. Seriously.
4. Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
I said, NO JUDGING! Any book that can be as addicting as meth gets a five-star rating in my book. And it’s CLEAN. And it’s getting people to read. And no matter who you are or how better-than-thou you claim to be, you still flipped through those pages faster than Edward could run through a forest.
5. Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers
Ahhh… Long sigh. The first two books in this series had me up all night. A love story with a positive message. You’ve enchanted us all, Francine.
6. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Marissa Meyer is everything I aspire to be. These books are fast-paced, fun adventurous, and take you everywhere you want to go.
7. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” This opening line embodies everything we all love about Lewis. He’s funny, playful, and witty. His story-telling, unique names, and world-building is unrivaled.
8. A Curse so Dark and Lonely and A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
Congrats, Brigid. You made the cut. I just finished the second book in this series, and I lost a LOT of sleep over it. My reading was constantly being interrupted by the vast number of times I was highlighting text. Her dialogue was superb. Character development superb. Everything about it met my criteria for awesome.
9. The Never Hero by T. Ellery Hodges
Urban fantasy at its finest. The first two books were fast, funny, and thoughtful. Don’t disappoint me on the third one, T. ;P
10. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
No fantasy favorites list is complete without this series. Tolkien made us feel all the feels- adventure, fear, pain, excitement, hunger, thirst, and something even deeper that leaves almost everyone who reads this series spellbound.
11. A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
Sarah, you don’t deserve this. I’m angry. But if it weren’t for my personal vendetta against you, I’m not sure I would have become a writer. These books would have been the next Twilight. Except for its R rating that was targeted for YOUNG ADULTS! I could never recommend this book for anyone under 18. I can hardly recommend it for anyone over 18. Yet the story, writing, and pacing are incredible. This series had me hooked.