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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,491 ratings  ·  235 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by HarperOne
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,491 ratings  ·  235 reviews


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Rachel
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Sharon
Mar 26, 2016 rated it liked it
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.
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. ...more
Sara
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
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 ...more
B.A. Wilson
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqia
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 beh
...more
Traci Haley
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Kelly Sierra
Dec 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2016
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 ...more
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 gay". Alex doesn't insis ...more
Rae
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
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 ...more
Rachel Burdin
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-riot-2016
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 ...more
Sarah
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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 ...more
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
...more
Sarah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
Sam
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Libby
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, i-cried
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 ...more
Maddy
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
John Yingling
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jill Crosby
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jenny
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Inspirational! Horrifying!
Even though I consider myself an LGBT ally and I think I'm up on the latest...I was still stunned that this story happened just 6 years ago. I know that parents are often upset when they find out their child is gay--it upsets the entire Mormon paradigm, after all. But I am surprised that people still think being gay is a choice and that orientation can be changed through therapy/repentance. I honestly don't think I thought that even way back in 1993, when I met my firs
...more
Cynthia Sillitoe
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 thes
...more
A.C. Paige
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
elizabeth
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked 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 ...more
Kristen Snellings
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Lindsey
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Steven
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Katelynd  DeSanctis
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Hard to believe the awful treatment of Alex (and other members of the LGBT) by those who loved them. Hope this brings some inspiration to those going through similar circumstances and raises awareness to what is really happening at the treatment centers.
Kristen Philips
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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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