All Boys Aren’t Blue
by George M. Johnson
Nonfiction, LGBTQ, Memoir
In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.
*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!*
This had been a book I’d seen from over the pond that had great reviews and looked so promising, so when I found out it was getting published next month in the UK I was so excited to be sent an early copy!
All Boys Aren’t Blue is the hard-hitting memoir come manifesto from George M. Johnson, and it’s a journey that talks about what it is like to grow up both Black and queer. Through a series of personal essays and insights into Johnson’s life, they really bring to life such vivid memories and anecdotes that are so easily sculpted into today’s generation. These essays are both informative as well as interesting.
Johnson writes with so much honesty and heart that it’s very difficult not to get attached to these stories and the people who occupy them. I really appreciated how Johnson was so completely raw and vulnerable, I definitely think this element elevated the stories and made each of them have much more of an impact. Johnson does not hide anything from the reader, he is, quite plainly, an open book. I can already see the good this is going to do in the word, especially for younger Black and queer readers who are only finding their place in the world.
I also really enjoyed how each of the sections of this book were divided into different parts of Johnson’s life – so, for example, there was “teenagers” era of his life, “friends”, “family,” etc. I felt like this was quite a clever way of storytelling, and it seemed as if Johnson deliberately made it cohesive enough to jump into the book at any one of these points. It wasn’t necessarily needed to read this from beginning to end, but instead I thought it could also be read in the order that the reader themselves felt was needed for them. I thought this was a masterful way of delivering such powerful, commanding stories that are sure to inspire and inform many of Johnson’s readers, and I look forward to reading whatever they write next. This collection is definitely one that demands to be read.
All Boys Aren’t Blue is published in the UK on the 4th of March by Penguin Random House, and I encourage you to go out and get a copy of this moving, authentic memoir.