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.
Title: Boy Erased
Author: Garrard Conley
Narrator: Michael Crouch
Published: May 2016
I don’t know if heart-breaking is a strong enough word to describe this book. I’ll totally admit that half the reason I wanted to listen to this book was because Michael Crouch was the narrator. Among narrators, he’s definitely my favorite, and I wanted to hear just how he’d tell this story.
The other half of my was really curious about Gerrard’s story, to learn about just what sort of things he’d gone through. I grew up in a religious house hold as well, where the constant threat of being outed loomed over my head, and still does to this day.
And I’m actually sitting here, smuggling to find things to say other than ‘read this book’. It’s something that everyone will really experience differently, so I feel as if there’s nothing I can truly say other than to just read it. There is a lesson here for everyone to learn. From everyone to rape survivors, to the parents of queer youth.
Maybe it’s because this book hit so close to me personally that I’m smuggling to gather all of my thoughts about it. Garrard is put through hell. The heteronormative lifestyle and ideals that was being pushed upon him not only by his family, but his religion; his rape in college, being outed by his rapist, being put through ex-gay conversation therapy. Garrard goes through so much and it’s absolutely heart-breaking.
Again I say, just read this book, it’s most certainly worth it! Now here’s hoping that Garrard writes another memoir, or maybe he’ll foray into fiction? Who knows, but he’s a voice I want to hear more from!
Michael Crouch is without a doubt my favorite narrator. From Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda to Wonders of the Invisible World. I really love the voice and character he can bring to a role, even if the book is non-fiction.
I do feel as if this could’ve been made more personal if Conley had narrated this himself though. There’s just a something that gets added to a memoir when the author themselves gets to tell their own story.
But Michael is just fine, great even. But again, that personal note is missing. Nothing too bad, but it’s an absence felt just a little bit.