Hello everybody! Now, I know it's not quite the end of the month, but as I didn't have a very long TBR for this month, I've already done my reading so I thought, why not post my April Book Reviews post early!
I didn't end up reading the third book on this month's TBR, Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer. I started reading but just really didn't enjoy it and I didn't end up finishing it so I won't be reviewing it in this post.
In addition to these books, I did read a couple others, which I'll post individual reviews for sometime soon!
To read last month's review, click here.
This month I read: BOY ERASED (GARRARD CONLEY) and ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE (GAIL HONEYMAN).
BOY ERASED - GARRARD CONLEY [4 stars]
"I came to therapy thinking that my sexuality didn't matter, but it turned out that every part of my personality was intimately connected. Cutting one piece damaged the rest."
Boy Erased is Garrard Conley's true story of his experiences in conversion therapy in the early 2000s. Growing up as the son of a soon-to-be pastor in Arkansas, he hid his sexuality from his family until he got to university when they finally found out and enrolled him in a popular ex-gay program in Tennessee, Love In Action.
Like I said in my April TBR post, I came across this book in a post online, listing off a bunch of must-read non-fiction books. I was dying to read another non-fiction book, as I've read a few that I've loved in the past few months, so I decided to go for this one. And it was def a good choice.
I thought this book was really interesting because Garrard's story is one that could have easily gone untold. He's from a small Southern town, and comes from a fundamentalist family, with a father who is working towards being a pastor, that believes homosexuality from a sin. He went to Love in Action somewhat willingly. Like many others, he could have accepted that conversion therapy was "right" (by his family's/community's/mentor's definitions) and that could've been the end of it. But the fact that he had the strength to go up against it all is what made this book so remarkable.
The stories that Garrard tells of his early adulthood - not just of his time at Love in Action, but also in university - are harrowing and heartbreaking. So many times I had to stop reading for a second because it was just so hard to imagine a nineteen-year-old kid going through what he had to go through. You could see that he had zero support system whatsoever, especially when people started finding out that he was gay. It was very upsetting to read stories of people who once cared about him turning their backs on him just because of his sexuality; as if who he was attracted to had anything to do with the sort of person he is, which it clearly doesn't.
I think the most important aspect of this book was that it shed light on the fact that there are still conversion therapies open and commonly used, even in the United States. Love in Action, the one he attended, only shut down in 2012. From a very quick Google search, only a handful of states have a ban on conversion therapies for minors - the rest allow it, which is something I didn't even think to look up until reading this book. I hope that this book continues to make that a more widely known fact because it's really not ok!!
ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE - GAIL HONEYMAN [4 stars]
"Some people, weak people, fear solitude. What they fail to understand is that you don't need anyone, you can take care of yourself."
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is about a young woman living in Glasgow named Eleanor, who lives every day, every week, every month exactly the same. She runs on a specifically planned, solitary daily schedule. Things start to change when an accident brings her and her office IT guys together in friendship. Soon, she is forced to come to grips with a secret she's been keeping from everyone - and from herself.
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, it might just be one of my favourites of the year so far. Eleanor's story is extremely moving; it's one of those "life gets better" sort of books that really warms my heart. From the very beginning of the novel, you can tell that Eleanor isn't a happy person and that something has caused her to be that way. Right off the bat, I was rooting for her to find happiness in her life - she's that sort of character that you just want to have a happy ending.
The writing of this book was particularly interesting because Eleanor is a very eloquent character, so the book was very well-written and included many a descriptive sentence. At first, I had a feeling that it would get sort of distracting to have the narration done like that - however, the sentences actually flowed surprisingly well and I found the writing pretty enjoyable!!
All in all, I wasn't at all prepared for this book - particularly the last half. Honestly, it took me completely by surprise. It was extremely hard to believe that this book was Gail Honeyman's debut novel.... like, I'm still in total shock. I'd love to read more from Gail Honeyman and I would easily recommend this book to basically everyone who likes to read, haha.