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Saving Alex: When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That's When My Nightmare Began

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When Alex Cooper was fifteen years old, life was pretty ordinary in her sleepy suburban town and nice Mormon family. At church and at home, Alex was taught that God had a plan for everyone. But something was gnawing at her that made her feel different. These feelings exploded when she met Yvette, a girl who made Alex feel alive in a new way, and with whom Alex would quickl When Alex Cooper was fifteen years old, life was pretty ordinary in her sleepy suburban town and nice Mormon family. At church and at home, Alex was taught that God had a plan for everyone. But something was gnawing at her that made her feel different. These feelings exploded when she met Yvette, a girl who made Alex feel alive in a new way, and with whom Alex would quickly fall in love. Alex knew she was holding a secret that could shatter her family, her church community, and her life. Yet when this secret couldn’t be hidden any longer, she told her parents that she was gay, and the nightmare began. She was driven from her home in Southern California to Utah, where, against her will, her parents handed her over 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 many days she was forced to stand facing a wall wearing a heavy backpack full of rocks. Her captors used faith to punish and terrorize her. With the help of a dedicated legal team in Salt Lake City, Alex eventually escaped and made legal history in Utah by winning the right to live under the law’s protection as an openly gay teenager. Alex is not alone; the headlines continue to splash stories about gay conversion therapy and rehabilitation centers that promise to “save” teenagers from their sexuality. Saving Alex is a courageous memoir that tells Alex’s story in the hopes that it will bring awareness and justice to this important issue. A bold, inspiring story of one girl’s fight for freedom, acceptance, and truth.


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When Alex Cooper was fifteen years old, life was pretty ordinary in her sleepy suburban town and nice Mormon family. At church and at home, Alex was taught that God had a plan for everyone. But something was gnawing at her that made her feel different. These feelings exploded when she met Yvette, a girl who made Alex feel alive in a new way, and with whom Alex would quickl When Alex Cooper was fifteen years old, life was pretty ordinary in her sleepy suburban town and nice Mormon family. At church and at home, Alex was taught that God had a plan for everyone. But something was gnawing at her that made her feel different. These feelings exploded when she met Yvette, a girl who made Alex feel alive in a new way, and with whom Alex would quickly fall in love. Alex knew she was holding a secret that could shatter her family, her church community, and her life. Yet when this secret couldn’t be hidden any longer, she told her parents that she was gay, and the nightmare began. She was driven from her home in Southern California to Utah, where, against her will, her parents handed her over 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 many days she was forced to stand facing a wall wearing a heavy backpack full of rocks. Her captors used faith to punish and terrorize her. With the help of a dedicated legal team in Salt Lake City, Alex eventually escaped and made legal history in Utah by winning the right to live under the law’s protection as an openly gay teenager. Alex is not alone; the headlines continue to splash stories about gay conversion therapy and rehabilitation centers that promise to “save” teenagers from their sexuality. Saving Alex is a courageous memoir that tells Alex’s story in the hopes that it will bring awareness and justice to this important issue. A bold, inspiring story of one girl’s fight for freedom, acceptance, and truth.

30 review for Saving Alex: When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That's When My Nightmare Began

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book is about Alex, who grew up LDS. When she came out to her parents, they kicked her out and then found a family in St. George, Utah, to convert her into being straight. Except that family wasn't licensed at all, and ended up abusing her physically, emotionally, and spiritually (and also, it's not possible to change a person's sexual orientation through bullying them). With the help of some friends she was able to escape her abusers and return to her family, but not without a huge legal s This book is about Alex, who grew up LDS. When she came out to her parents, they kicked her out and then found a family in St. George, Utah, to convert her into being straight. Except that family wasn't licensed at all, and ended up abusing her physically, emotionally, and spiritually (and also, it's not possible to change a person's sexual orientation through bullying them). With the help of some friends she was able to escape her abusers and return to her family, but not without a huge legal struggle to ensure her safety. Part of that legal struggle was setting a precedent for other LGBT kids in Utah; during the case her opposition argued that encouraging her to be heterosexual was part of her parents' right to raise her in their religion, but by the end of the case they decided that was not the case (I think). Reading about her custody trial also helped me understand more about how the legal system works--it seems like more of a give-and-take until both parties are more or less satisfied or tired. I also feel more sympathy for victims of abuse who decide in the end not to press charges, as it seemed like a very stressful experience (Alex decided to get on with her life rather than press charges against the family that abused her). This book was horrifying, riveting, and emotionally draining. Five stars for being courageous and publishing this book. But I can't say I really enjoyed reading about this emotionally difficult experience, but I think it was good for me to realize what terrible things LDS exclusion of gay people can inspire. If you are an LDS parent, please decide now that you would never abandon your child or kick them our of your house because of their sexual orientation. You can hold a temple recommend and still love and support your children, even if they are queer. If you're an LGBT/QUILTBAG person struggling in the LDS community, my ears and heart, and possibly my spare room if it comes down to that, are open to you.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I'm torn on how to rate this one. The story itself was so compelling and felt like an important story to be told. The writing was decent, but not amazing. I also felt like I was left with some unanswered questions at the end of the book, although perhaps they are unanswered because Alex is still so young and might not even know the answers yet! Overall, worth the read -- an important story told by a very brave and resilient young woman. I'm torn on how to rate this one. The story itself was so compelling and felt like an important story to be told. The writing was decent, but not amazing. I also felt like I was left with some unanswered questions at the end of the book, although perhaps they are unanswered because Alex is still so young and might not even know the answers yet! Overall, worth the read -- an important story told by a very brave and resilient young woman.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    The subtitle says it all. This is a memoir about Alex Cooper’s problems being a lesbian teen in a Mormon family. Her parents loved her, and she loved them in return. She admits in the book that she was quite a handful as a teen: she drank, smoked pot, and went on trips with friends without her parents’ permission. But the one transgression they could not forgive was her declaration that she liked girls. They believed that being gay was a choice, a bad choice that would keep her out of paradise. The subtitle says it all. This is a memoir about Alex Cooper’s problems being a lesbian teen in a Mormon family. Her parents loved her, and she loved them in return. She admits in the book that she was quite a handful as a teen: she drank, smoked pot, and went on trips with friends without her parents’ permission. But the one transgression they could not forgive was her declaration that she liked girls. They believed that being gay was a choice, a bad choice that would keep her out of paradise. So they found a place in Utah to send her to cure her by making her choose to be straight and to stop choosing to be gay. This book tells her story of her life at the place (an unlicensed couple acting as if they ran a conversion therapy and rehabilitation center) and beyond. The story recounts her suffering at the hands of the family who took her in and her life after her escape. Suffice it to say that through a series of lucky happenstances and a lot of hard work by many people of good will, this story has a happy ending, for Alex and, eventually, for her parents. While the story is compelling (the reader wants to know what happens next), the writing is pedestrian. Still, I was glad to have read this book and recommend it to others interested in protecting LBGT kids who wish to be who they are. Alex was only fifteen when her saga began, and she is only twenty-one now as I write this review. That could account for the compelling nature of the read. And I am sure that in the years ahead, Alex may come to have an even richer understanding of what she went through. There are some notes at the end of the book to guide those who wish to do more to help such teens and also those who feel in need of such help. 3/5

  4. 5 out of 5

    B.A. Wilson

    The teacher that still lurks inside me fought a constant battle between rage and sorrow while reading this true story. I’m horrified that any adult would behave this way towards a child, despite the fact that I’ve seen and heard even worse. POTENTIAL SPOILERS: YOU'VE BEEN WARNED I’m proud of Alex but ashamed of many of the adults in this novel, including her parents, whom I still find to be an epic disappointment. I don’t feel that sacrificing basic humanity and kindness is ever acceptable behavi The teacher that still lurks inside me fought a constant battle between rage and sorrow while reading this true story. I’m horrified that any adult would behave this way towards a child, despite the fact that I’ve seen and heard even worse. POTENTIAL SPOILERS: YOU'VE BEEN WARNED I’m proud of Alex but ashamed of many of the adults in this novel, including her parents, whom I still find to be an epic disappointment. I don’t feel that sacrificing basic humanity and kindness is ever acceptable behavior, regardless of your religious beliefs. I appreciate how facts and statistics about the LGBT community were included, so it becomes clear that this was not just a rare or random act of abuse, intolerance, and hatred. From my perspective, the parents both belong in jail (as well as the Siales), and they should consider themselves lucky that Alex protected them, despite the fact that they never protected her. Their neglect and complete lack of support, even after finding out what she suffered, is appalling. This book will make you angry, sad, and hopeful. If it doesn’t, then you might need to take a long look in the mirror and reevaluate your life and perspectives. Pages: 256

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    An infuriating read. The Utah Cooper describes is chillingly close to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a place where the semblance of happy family life and a seemingly sympathetic gaze mask unfeeling conformity, but it's her ability to find empathy for both her parents and captors--even while justifiably wanting to run the latter over--that makes this book both moving and enlightening. It's also a nice retort to the loons blathering about Sharia law in the US, as even after her escape, Cooper is An infuriating read. The Utah Cooper describes is chillingly close to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a place where the semblance of happy family life and a seemingly sympathetic gaze mask unfeeling conformity, but it's her ability to find empathy for both her parents and captors--even while justifiably wanting to run the latter over--that makes this book both moving and enlightening. It's also a nice retort to the loons blathering about Sharia law in the US, as even after her escape, Cooper is forced to lock horns with a homegrown version in the Utah legal system. This is not John Krakauer writing-wise, but it deserves a spot alongside Under the Banner of Heaven and Emily Danforth's Miseducation of Cameron Post.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Traci Haley

    Fuck the people who did this to Alex. Fuck the Mormon church. And any other "church" that condones hateful acts like this book tells about. Fuck her parents. Fuck Tiana and Johnny, whoever they really are. Fuck the people who looked past Alex and didn't say anything. Fuck any close-minded, hard-hearted BIGOTS (because that's who you are) who ever think that being gay, lesbian, trans, or whatever other shade of the spectrum you can and cannot imagine is meant to be anything but CELEBRATED for a beauti Fuck the people who did this to Alex. Fuck the Mormon church. And any other "church" that condones hateful acts like this book tells about. Fuck her parents. Fuck Tiana and Johnny, whoever they really are. Fuck the people who looked past Alex and didn't say anything. Fuck any close-minded, hard-hearted BIGOTS (because that's who you are) who ever think that being gay, lesbian, trans, or whatever other shade of the spectrum you can and cannot imagine is meant to be anything but CELEBRATED for a beautiful, joyful gift. But on the other hand... Bless Delsy. Bless Jason. Bless Paul. And most of all, bless Alex, for being brave enough not only to live her story, but tell her story. If you can read this book and not be moved to anger, sadness, and a great need to help in SOME way... then I feel bad for you. I can't say that I loved this book because I don't love that books like this ever exist in the nonfiction section. But this book is important. And it is brave. And it is necessary.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Sierra

    I'm giving this story 3 stars because of the missing information, the novice writing, and some small issues I had with the layout; however, this book was an amazing and tragic story that is necessary to share. This happens more often than not and it makes me mad, it makes me disgusted, and it also makes me sad. Loving someone does not give you the right, authority, or ability to change that person to fit what you think they should do. Being a parent doesn't mean that your child loves you uncondi I'm giving this story 3 stars because of the missing information, the novice writing, and some small issues I had with the layout; however, this book was an amazing and tragic story that is necessary to share. This happens more often than not and it makes me mad, it makes me disgusted, and it also makes me sad. Loving someone does not give you the right, authority, or ability to change that person to fit what you think they should do. Being a parent doesn't mean that your child loves you unconditionally, it means that you teach your child what unconditional means. If you bring a child into this world, you are the last person that can bully your child, you are supposed to accept everything about them that the rest of the world will use against them. If they are born with 9 fingers instead of 10, you love the heck out of those 9 fingers, your kid is going to be the best at blah blah blah with 9 fingers. If your child is born and grows up to love the same sex, then they are going to be the most awesome gay kid ever. If your child is born with a mental disability, that child is going to be special but not in a derogatory manner. What I am saying is, we cannot control who are child is when they are born, but we can control how we react and who we let tell us that our children are not precious. I felt terrible for Alex, and many like her. I'm not gay, I have no gay relatives, no gay best friend, but that doesn't mean that I don't understand what being gay means. It's the same as saying I'm a brunette, or I'm Hispanic. These are things I was born into/with, things that are ingrained into my very person. I would not expect someone to change their hair color to fit in, or change their ethnicity to make everyone acceptant of me. Furthermore, I would not expect a gay person to be able to change their stripes. They were born gay, no one wakes up and decides "I'm going to be gay." Maybe they wake up and say "I'm going to accept myself, even if everyone else can't." But I don't think their is a sexuality switch and it's disrespectful to make such an assumption. I also don't believe my God works with hate, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." These "treatment" centers are deplorable and against basic civil liberties. It is important for these stories to be told, to be heard, to be believed, and to be shared.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    This book is as horrific as you might expect based on the title. It's heart-breaking that only a few years ago, a girl not much younger than I am experienced something this horrific in the United States with her parents approval and encouragement... Every layer of her story makes me so sick to my stomach. The people who knew, were involved, bore witness, or heard of her stories of her abuse and accepted that this was okay and necessary for her to be a part of God's plan and to "choose to not be This book is as horrific as you might expect based on the title. It's heart-breaking that only a few years ago, a girl not much younger than I am experienced something this horrific in the United States with her parents approval and encouragement... Every layer of her story makes me so sick to my stomach. The people who knew, were involved, bore witness, or heard of her stories of her abuse and accepted that this was okay and necessary for her to be a part of God's plan and to "choose to not be gay". Alex doesn't insist that this is because of Mormonism, but without the messages taught to her family within the Mormon faith her life could have looked very different. She does make the point that Mormonism does not give a lot of support or guidance to healthily support gay children or family members. Surprisingly, she has a lot of compassion for her parents. Remarkable, even... Thankfully, in the end, Alex's story has justice all because of her persistence and deep belief that there is nothing broken about her. Thanks to a relentless friend who reached out to Alex and a team of lawyers who at their own expenses sought to help Alex, we get to hear her story and she goes on to help other children currently in need.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    I'm not giving this a rating. It doesn't seem right to rate someone's life, even if I've done so in the past and will probably rate other memoirs after this, but this time it doesn't feel right to rate it on a five-point scale that wouldn't truly capture the importance of this story. Because Alex's story is horrifying and hard to read and maddening and really, really important, especially in an apathetic USA that thinks the LGBTQ movement has won and/or is winning all its major political battles I'm not giving this a rating. It doesn't seem right to rate someone's life, even if I've done so in the past and will probably rate other memoirs after this, but this time it doesn't feel right to rate it on a five-point scale that wouldn't truly capture the importance of this story. Because Alex's story is horrifying and hard to read and maddening and really, really important, especially in an apathetic USA that thinks the LGBTQ movement has won and/or is winning all its major political battles despite electing a president whose choice for vice president is such a vocal proponent of gay conversion therapy. We need to hear stories like Alex's again and again until the stories like this no longer exist.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A real gut punch of a story, but the ending feels unfinished. The physical violence she suffered is terrible but the way she makes excuses for her parents enabling that violence and for the emotional violence of them still not believing her is sad. I would love to see a follow up book in 10 years when she realizes that she doesn't have to forgive the parents who continue to abuse her with silence and lack of support. A real gut punch of a story, but the ending feels unfinished. The physical violence she suffered is terrible but the way she makes excuses for her parents enabling that violence and for the emotional violence of them still not believing her is sad. I would love to see a follow up book in 10 years when she realizes that she doesn't have to forgive the parents who continue to abuse her with silence and lack of support.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    THIS BOOK MADE ME SICK. The crimes against young LGBT in the Mormon faith is nauseating to say the very least and Alex Cooper's outspoken memoir is heartbreakingly just that. She explains the what's, how's, where's and who's but is left asking all sorts of why's. Young and courageous, Alex stands up and tells her story of surviving being abused as a lesbian teenager in Arizona/California. THIS BOOK MADE ME SICK. The crimes against young LGBT in the Mormon faith is nauseating to say the very least and Alex Cooper's outspoken memoir is heartbreakingly just that. She explains the what's, how's, where's and who's but is left asking all sorts of why's. Young and courageous, Alex stands up and tells her story of surviving being abused as a lesbian teenager in Arizona/California.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Burdin

    A quick, but moving, read. The book might have benefited, in some ways, from having a greater period of time from the events to publication. There are some areas left unexplored--there is, for example, the barest of nods to LGBT+ friendly Mormons and clearly Alex's relationship with God is complex and potentially still developing, that, given another 5 years, would make some very interesting reading, as both the LDS Church struggles with what to do with LGBT+ members, and Alex's own relationship A quick, but moving, read. The book might have benefited, in some ways, from having a greater period of time from the events to publication. There are some areas left unexplored--there is, for example, the barest of nods to LGBT+ friendly Mormons and clearly Alex's relationship with God is complex and potentially still developing, that, given another 5 years, would make some very interesting reading, as both the LDS Church struggles with what to do with LGBT+ members, and Alex's own relationship with her family and her faith evolves. But, as it is, the book is a compelling, if brief, snapshot into one person's story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    There are so many things I like about this book. Despite how terrifying it is to consider that we’re still engaging in ridiculous and despicable things such as reparative therapy (I mean, SERIOUSLY?!), it’s awesome to know that there are youngsters out there bucking the system and working hard to make the world a safer place for us all. Alex Cooper went through some terrible things as a result of her choosing to be open about her sexual orientation. People she loved and trusted put her in danger There are so many things I like about this book. Despite how terrifying it is to consider that we’re still engaging in ridiculous and despicable things such as reparative therapy (I mean, SERIOUSLY?!), it’s awesome to know that there are youngsters out there bucking the system and working hard to make the world a safer place for us all. Alex Cooper went through some terrible things as a result of her choosing to be open about her sexual orientation. People she loved and trusted put her in danger and invalidated her identity over and over again. She was abused for months in the name of “cure.” And she has every right to be unspeakably angry, which she is. BUT she’s also insanely wise for such a young human. She’s able to recognize that her parents did what they did because they love her and that’s the only thing they knew to do at the time. She’s able to find peace in her own identity, even apart from her culture and her parents (who are making progress, but still haven’t fully come around to the idea that it’s okay for girls to like girls). What an impressive and inspirational person. Let’s all take a cue from Alex Cooper and start loving ourselves, speaking our truth, and respecting other people’s right to be who they need to be.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sara ➽ Ink Is My Sword

    4 How to rate a memoir, honestly (?) Stars Rating memoirs is difficult, which right do we as readers have to rate the life story of someone out there, everyone has one to tell and all of them are important. Yet, I most say, Saving Alex is a type of book you will never forget, a story the touches hearts, makes you cry, and makes you question why is the world so blind and unfair sometimes. At the same time it gives you hope, and lets you know not all sad stories DONT end in a tragedy, but could bec 4 How to rate a memoir, honestly (?) Stars Rating memoirs is difficult, which right do we as readers have to rate the life story of someone out there, everyone has one to tell and all of them are important. Yet, I most say, Saving Alex is a type of book you will never forget, a story the touches hearts, makes you cry, and makes you question why is the world so blind and unfair sometimes. At the same time it gives you hope, and lets you know not all sad stories DONT end in a tragedy, but could become a miracle.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eve

    This was an amazing and emotional read, wow. My heart breaks for Alex, but I'm so happy that she's alive and well. This book made me feel such intense anger towards her parents, the Siales, and most of the community in St. George who did nothing. Alex's strength is remarkable, and her story is SO important. This was an amazing and emotional read, wow. My heart breaks for Alex, but I'm so happy that she's alive and well. This book made me feel such intense anger towards her parents, the Siales, and most of the community in St. George who did nothing. Alex's strength is remarkable, and her story is SO important.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    This was a heart-wrenching read. The fact that this happens more often than not makes me so angry and disgusted. I felt so terrible for Alex and I was so relieved when she was able to get some justice. It is important for these stories to be told and to be believed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Traci

    This was a strong 4.25 almost 4.5 for me. Alex's story left me furious, sad, and baffled by the behavior of her parents and their decision to change who she is. My emotions were sent into overdrive once she was taken to live with Johnny and Tiara and the hell they put her through. I was relieved when she was finally able to escape, but that did not make any of my anger go away for the situation that her parents put her in. What if something worse than the abuse she suffered occurred while she wa This was a strong 4.25 almost 4.5 for me. Alex's story left me furious, sad, and baffled by the behavior of her parents and their decision to change who she is. My emotions were sent into overdrive once she was taken to live with Johnny and Tiara and the hell they put her through. I was relieved when she was finally able to escape, but that did not make any of my anger go away for the situation that her parents put her in. What if something worse than the abuse she suffered occurred while she was there? This book is a must read for everyone, whether you consider yourself an Ally or not.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    Alex wanted to be a good daughter. She loved her mom and dad. She wanted to a good Mormon. She was brought up in the church by her mom and dad. But she was stubborn and troubled by doubts and thoughts because she felt different. She wanted to love other girls. One day, she told her mom she was gay. Then the nightmare began. Her much loved parents and her familiar and comforting Church had no room for a girl who loved girls Her parents decided she must be saved from herself. With the cooperation Alex wanted to be a good daughter. She loved her mom and dad. She wanted to a good Mormon. She was brought up in the church by her mom and dad. But she was stubborn and troubled by doubts and thoughts because she felt different. She wanted to love other girls. One day, she told her mom she was gay. Then the nightmare began. Her much loved parents and her familiar and comforting Church had no room for a girl who loved girls Her parents decided she must be saved from herself. With the cooperation of her grandparents and the encouragement of the church, Alex was handed over, legally, into the custody of a couple who claimed they could alter Alex's sexual preferences. They claimed to be trained behavior experts who knew methods to "fix" Alex. Their methods included wearing a backpack made heavy with rocks and standing face to a wall to "Feel" the weight of her bad "choices" and to realize that she was deluding herself by believing she was gay. She was pinched, punched and beaten when she attempted to communicate with the world outside her tiny, tight-knit community. She resisted, but was worn down by despair, eventually attempting suicide, but her jailers had met resistance before. Though not the therapists they claimed to be, both had been guards in behavioral facilities. They made sure to impress on her that the police, the neighbors and everyone she might meet, knew them and would not believe her if she complained. Finally she realized that to survive, she had to placate them and make them believe she was cooperative. When they were sure of her docility, she was allowed to go to school, where she met a boy who knew a lawyer. What followed was a round of legal maneuvering that remade Utah law and set Alex free. This story was a chilling story of parental care gone wrong and the chilling indifference of society to the suffering of the "different" ones. Alex's sufferings are particularly poignant in that they were dispensed by those whom she loved most. The book is written very simply and perhaps this is why the methods of her keepers seem so chilling and terrifying. And yet, Alex's tale makes it clear that there is hope, that some people do care and that life, even after pain and terror, can be very sweet. I have to recommend this to any and all who are LGBT or who love someone who is LGBT. This book may horrify you, but it will also inspire you and bring you hope.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    Powerful. Alex's story is one everyone should know, especially any parent that feels their children's homosexuality is something they should fix. Something the CAN fix. If any parent is considering these abusive, disturbing conversion therapy centers they need to know what they are signing up for first. This book left me weepy, angry, and justified. It was hard reading Alex's story, her hopelessness is is palpable. You will feel a range of emotions as you live through her story. I was so angry wi Powerful. Alex's story is one everyone should know, especially any parent that feels their children's homosexuality is something they should fix. Something the CAN fix. If any parent is considering these abusive, disturbing conversion therapy centers they need to know what they are signing up for first. This book left me weepy, angry, and justified. It was hard reading Alex's story, her hopelessness is is palpable. You will feel a range of emotions as you live through her story. I was so angry with her parents, first and foremost. How a parent could do that is beyond me, but indoctrination is a powerful thing and it's best to place the anger with the Mormon church itself, but it's still shocking to think a parent is capable of doing this to their child. But besides anger, you feel so relieved and your sense of humanity is restored when certain characters come into her story. The friend from school, the teacher, the lawyer, the bus driver. There are times, whether it's depression or you finding yourself in a desperate situation, that you need people to help you, pull you out, and get you through it. Sometimes you are powerless. What I took from this, setting aside my anger, was a sense of hope, that there are people out there who can help, support, and love you. I want to personally reach out and hug each of these people who took Alex out of this horrible situation, the supporters who finally where able, in the end, to save Alex.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This was a difficult story to read, but an important story to be told. It left me incredibly sad and angry. It highlights the dangers of indoctrination and wrong-thinking too many devoutly religious people fall prey to. Alex was a spirited and somewhat defiant fifteen year old girl who liked to sneak out of the house, smoke a little weed, and girls. When she informed her parents she liked girls their first reaction was to kick her out of the house. Then they shipped her to another state and plac This was a difficult story to read, but an important story to be told. It left me incredibly sad and angry. It highlights the dangers of indoctrination and wrong-thinking too many devoutly religious people fall prey to. Alex was a spirited and somewhat defiant fifteen year old girl who liked to sneak out of the house, smoke a little weed, and girls. When she informed her parents she liked girls their first reaction was to kick her out of the house. Then they shipped her to another state and placed her in the custody of a couple who ran an unlicensed home for troubled teens. This couple tried to 'cure' Alex of her homosexuality through verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, as well as through prayer and scripture readings. The theme that ran through this story was the importance of being able to be seen and heard and accepted as your authentic self. Alex often referred to her struggle with being invisible to others who were literally inches away from her, and of having her voice silenced. I am happy she was able to finally be seen and heard by telling her story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Yingling

    Maybe I'm just being naïve, or uninformed, but this book stunned me, in that even in recent years people still believe that gays can be untrained (for lack of a better term) from their "lifestyle". What Alex Cooper went through is disgusting and shameful. And it's sad that she had to go through the legal system just to have what she should have been entitled to all along: the freedom to live her life as a gay person. I admire the people who helped her along the way, and am angered by her parents Maybe I'm just being naïve, or uninformed, but this book stunned me, in that even in recent years people still believe that gays can be untrained (for lack of a better term) from their "lifestyle". What Alex Cooper went through is disgusting and shameful. And it's sad that she had to go through the legal system just to have what she should have been entitled to all along: the freedom to live her life as a gay person. I admire the people who helped her along the way, and am angered by her parents' attitude towards her. I just wished so much I could have had a daughter like her to tell her that I loved her and that she is a very cool person, and those feelings of mine would never change. I admire Alex too for her honesty about her outbursts and loss of temper at times. She is a person who is a real role model, and a courageous person who fought the good fight to have her freedom. This book was definitely a worthwhile read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    A really disturbing and sad memoir-- its title is pretty self-explanatory as to the plot line-- this author of this book actually left what I found the most interesting part of this story- the legal issues and court cases surrounding her story-- out of the really long title. I was fairly horrified at the way this girl's family, community, and church failed her over and over again. I wouldn't say that its a damning book towards Mormonism, especially compared to other books, but it definitely digs A really disturbing and sad memoir-- its title is pretty self-explanatory as to the plot line-- this author of this book actually left what I found the most interesting part of this story- the legal issues and court cases surrounding her story-- out of the really long title. I was fairly horrified at the way this girl's family, community, and church failed her over and over again. I wouldn't say that its a damning book towards Mormonism, especially compared to other books, but it definitely digs deeply into why someone who is part of the LGBT community could never really be accepted or exist fully within the religion due to their doctrines and beliefs about the afterlife. The descriptions of the teen rehabilitation centers in Utah were kind of creepy, and the family she was "placed" with... what a shitshow. Definitely better than I expected for a free kindle memoir- worth reading to people who like these kinds of stories. 3 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jill Crosby

    I wanted EVERYBODY in this book who had a hand in sending Alex Cooper to “therapy” to go to jail. Sadly, this did not happen. Parents and “therapists”—30-to-life, no parole. But Alex wants to continue to live at home and have a relationship—as normal as possible—with the parents, who assigned her to a year of hell inside a strict Mormon home where the jailers beat her and forced her to stand for hours facing a wall, a backpack full of rocks pulling her spine out of alignment permanently just so I wanted EVERYBODY in this book who had a hand in sending Alex Cooper to “therapy” to go to jail. Sadly, this did not happen. Parents and “therapists”—30-to-life, no parole. But Alex wants to continue to live at home and have a relationship—as normal as possible—with the parents, who assigned her to a year of hell inside a strict Mormon home where the jailers beat her and forced her to stand for hours facing a wall, a backpack full of rocks pulling her spine out of alignment permanently just so she would “unburden herself” of her lesbian “choices” and return to the fold. I wanted early emancipation for Alex. And jail time for her parents and the “therapists” involved. But that’s not what Alex wanted, so she returned to live with her parents ( could you ever trust them again?), and refused to pursue her captors toward the jail sentence they so obviously deserve, leaving them free to “help” other teens in a community that covers up for them. Horrifying, and dissatisfying

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Sillitoe

    I should know better than to rate a book before I finish. I want to add a word: hopeful. Yay, Alex! Tough. Raw. I hope the people who need to read this book will. Along with Alex's story, this is a story about abusers and how they get away with it. It's really easy to think we know people. We see the side they present of themselves, say at church, and everyone thinks they're great and the community perpetuates it, telling each other these people are great and they've saved all of these kids, and I should know better than to rate a book before I finish. I want to add a word: hopeful. Yay, Alex! Tough. Raw. I hope the people who need to read this book will. Along with Alex's story, this is a story about abusers and how they get away with it. It's really easy to think we know people. We see the side they present of themselves, say at church, and everyone thinks they're great and the community perpetuates it, telling each other these people are great and they've saved all of these kids, and maybe even some of the people they supposedly helped say they're great and then people see someone being abused or are passed a note from someone, asking for help, and no one believes them. It's insidious.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Snellings

    I heard Alex Cooper interviewed on a podcast and decided to read her book. What happened to her was shocking, and a reminder of how easy it is for abused children to slip through the cracks, especially when there is already bias against them because they are "problem teens." In her case, the fact that the abusers were well-regarded in the community while she was an outsider led people to ignore what was happening right in front of them. I only gave the book 3 stars because of the melodramatic wr I heard Alex Cooper interviewed on a podcast and decided to read her book. What happened to her was shocking, and a reminder of how easy it is for abused children to slip through the cracks, especially when there is already bias against them because they are "problem teens." In her case, the fact that the abusers were well-regarded in the community while she was an outsider led people to ignore what was happening right in front of them. I only gave the book 3 stars because of the melodramatic writing. Her story stands by itself and lost something with all the "I couldn't believe my own parents would do this to me", before the abuse by the host family had even started.

  26. 5 out of 5

    elizabeth

    With only a handful of states voting to outlaw "conversion therapy" in 2015 (several others voting to allow it) and the FTC currently looking into whether it should be banned as a deceptive practice, the timing on the book is incredibly relevant. The author's experiences are explained in detail and can only help people understand the barbaric concept of this practice. There was a lot of redundancy and over assumption about her parents and their motives, but it was a quick and worthwhile read. It With only a handful of states voting to outlaw "conversion therapy" in 2015 (several others voting to allow it) and the FTC currently looking into whether it should be banned as a deceptive practice, the timing on the book is incredibly relevant. The author's experiences are explained in detail and can only help people understand the barbaric concept of this practice. There was a lot of redundancy and over assumption about her parents and their motives, but it was a quick and worthwhile read. It would be interesting if her parents would ever be able to heal enough to collaborate on this story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    PandaCat

    While I didn't necessarily agree with all of Alex's rebelliousness, I loved the rawness and honesty of her story. She told her story concisely and with heart. It's sad that so many young people have been through this kind of thing and can't be accepted by their own families. I would be upset if my child disappeared for a few days, what parent wouldn't? But there is so much space for acceptance when it comes to raising LGBT children. I really hope America continues to move forward when it comes t While I didn't necessarily agree with all of Alex's rebelliousness, I loved the rawness and honesty of her story. She told her story concisely and with heart. It's sad that so many young people have been through this kind of thing and can't be accepted by their own families. I would be upset if my child disappeared for a few days, what parent wouldn't? But there is so much space for acceptance when it comes to raising LGBT children. I really hope America continues to move forward when it comes to the issues surrounding the difficulties LGBT teens face. There is a lot to be aware of when it comes to their wellbeing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I’m not sure how to rate this book. On one hand, it did what any good book should; it incited a reaction, it made me feel something. Many things, actually. I felt sadness, anger, resolve, regret. The writing was redundant and amateur, which can be ignored mostly because the story is so intriguing. There are also some things I feel were glossed over and other things, like the paragraphs of statistics, that were, in most cases, misplaced and abrupt. However, this story is an important one- change I’m not sure how to rate this book. On one hand, it did what any good book should; it incited a reaction, it made me feel something. Many things, actually. I felt sadness, anger, resolve, regret. The writing was redundant and amateur, which can be ignored mostly because the story is so intriguing. There are also some things I feel were glossed over and other things, like the paragraphs of statistics, that were, in most cases, misplaced and abrupt. However, this story is an important one- change will not come unless people speak out. Worth the read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    While reading this memoir to teach to one of my senior independent study students, I felt a connection to Alex Cooper's words. She lived through all of the things that I have been terrified of for the past several years, and she made it out. It does get better. That's something that I need to portray more authentically in my life and the life of my students. Thank you, Alex. While reading this memoir to teach to one of my senior independent study students, I felt a connection to Alex Cooper's words. She lived through all of the things that I have been terrified of for the past several years, and she made it out. It does get better. That's something that I need to portray more authentically in my life and the life of my students. Thank you, Alex.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Philips

    Alex Cooper is a modern day hero, and we should all learn from the torture she was put through which was excused by her religion. We cannot allow our fears to overtake our common sense and excuse mistreatment of others. She fought legislation in order to live a normal life - she is an inspiration.

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