I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Saving Alex by Alex Cooper, Joanna Brooks
Published by HarperOne on March 1, 2016
Genres: LGBT, Personal Memoirs, Religion
Buy on Amazon
Days after Alex Cooper told her parents that she was gay, they drove Alex from their home in Southern California to Utah, where they signed over guardianship to fellow Mormons who promised to save Alex from her homosexuality.
For eight harrowing months, Alex was held captive in an unlicensed “residential treatment program,” modeled on the many “therapeutic” boot camps scattered across Utah. Alex was physically and verbally abused, and forced to stand facing a wall for up to eighteen hours a day wearing a heavy backpack full of rocks. “God’s plan does not apply to gay people,” her captors told her, using faith to punish and terrorize her. With the help of a dedicated legal team in Salt Lake City, Alex would eventually escape and make legal history in Utah by winning the right to live under the law’s protection as an openly gay teenager.
Saving Alex is a horrific yet uplifting story of identity, faith, courage, acceptance, and freedom that reveals what happens when religion goes too far and how a group of dedicated Americans and one young woman fought for her rights, including finding the strength and courage to be herself, and how her story has inspired countless others along the way.
Saving Alex is subtitled When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That’s When My Nightmare Began and that pretty much sums up the book. Now that may sound flippant, but it is not meant to be. The subtitle sets up a harrowing tale of what happens when people attempt to change an innate part of another. The life of Alex Cooper took on a frightening turn when, after coming out to her conservative and religious parents, they sign guardianship over to a couple who claim they can “fix” her. What follows is eight months of abuse, deprivation, and attempted brain washing.
Alex Cooper has dealt with a lot in her young life. Being able to put it in writing, I imagine, has to be cathartic for her. She has a strong voice which comes across in her writing. A few areas lacked the emotion in the rest of the book, and that may be due to the co-writer, or to her suppressing some feelings, which is natural. Other than these few scenes emotion coursed through the book. The beginning was a bit slow but the information delivered helped move the story in the second part.
I have heard of reconditioning centers and understood the concept, but have never heard from a person who lived through it. The idea that someone would think they can change an integral part of another is abhorrent to me and the fact that young people have to go through this makes me shudder. I am glad that this experience has made Alex Cooper a strong and thoughtful young women, but wonder about the damage caused to others. Memoirs like Saving Alex are so important, as they help demystify procedures that we may not think of too closely. I am glad I had a chance to read Saving Alex as it made me even more firm in my knowledge that a person’s sexual orientation is not a choice, as anyone would choose differently under such harsh circumstances. I wish the best for Alex and hope that the process of writing this book has helped her heal and move on.
Favorite lines – I started to feel like a stranger in my own life. Sometimes I felt like part of me was pulling away deep down inside, away from the surface, away from where anyone could see me or touch me. But at other times I felt like part of me was trying to swim to the surface, trying to come up for air, starving for a feeling of normal, or for normal human contact: a hug, a touch on the shoulder.
Have you read Saving Alex, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 Diverse Books Reading Challenge
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Mount TBR Reading Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge