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All Boys Aren't Blue

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for All Boys Aren't Blue

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Pham

    Update: Changing my GR rating to 4 stars because I'm trying to keep my goodreads more consistent to my personal impressions rather than what I think the book should be "objectively"! 4 stars for me personally, but I believe it deserves 5 stars for young adults that this is geared towards. This is a lovely and wonderful memoir that I think would be perfect for LGBT+ teens and allies who are seeking to learn more about gender identity, toxic masculinity, and themselves. Johnson puts himself in the Update: Changing my GR rating to 4 stars because I'm trying to keep my goodreads more consistent to my personal impressions rather than what I think the book should be "objectively"! 4 stars for me personally, but I believe it deserves 5 stars for young adults that this is geared towards. This is a lovely and wonderful memoir that I think would be perfect for LGBT+ teens and allies who are seeking to learn more about gender identity, toxic masculinity, and themselves. Johnson puts himself in the place of a mentor and friend who's looking out for others (and directly talks to you, the reader) who have been in vulnerable places like him. He shares anecdotes from his life growing up and turns them into accessible lessons for his audience. Johnson seems like such a caring and compassionate person, who holds so much love for his family and the support network he has, and I could truly feel it in his writing and audiobook narration. My caveat is more of a personal preference, but I wish he had done more showing instead of telling in his writing. When he shares anecdotes throughout his life, he also goes out of his way to explain what the story symbolized, which becomes overt and repetitive. I would have liked for him to take a step back and let us process and immerse ourselves in his stories as they are, rather than explaining directly to the reader, especially when the messages can be quite obvious without any further demonstration. As a reader, I prefer the writing to push ideas in a more poetic way, rather than have it be directly told. I’m sure he really wanted to nail the messages down to a teenage audience though, so I don’t really mind and am willing to boost my rating to 5 stars because I still think this is a valuable book for young people in the LGBT+ community.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    so who the fuck let it slip that I cannot resist books with beautiful soft flower boys on their covers What baffles me most about this book is the realisation that heteronormativity and homophobia sit so deeply within society that even when you have a loving and queer-friendly family and friend-circle you will fear and avoid coming out (to yourself as much as to others) for decades. Let that sink in. Honestly though, this book was everything I hoped it would be: An exploration of gender, identity so who the fuck let it slip that I cannot resist books with beautiful soft flower boys on their covers What baffles me most about this book is the realisation that heteronormativity and homophobia sit so deeply within society that even when you have a loving and queer-friendly family and friend-circle you will fear and avoid coming out (to yourself as much as to others) for decades. Let that sink in. Honestly though, this book was everything I hoped it would be: An exploration of gender, identity and sexuality. A guide for queer and especially queer, Black kids that shows them they're valued and wanted and powerful. A moving memoir - I cried so much and at this point I don't know whether I'm just a big softie or have an immense talent in always picking books that hit me hardest. I can recommend it to teenagers that have questions about sex, relationships, growing up gay, about growing up Black but also to parents that want to ensure their kid has an affirming and supportive environment. Actually, I want everyone to read this because you're missing out if you're not. Find more of my books on Instagram

  3. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    this is a very powerful memoir about being black and queer, and the intersection of those identities. the author narrates the audiobook and you can tell he is a natural born story-teller. i highly highly recommend this

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jesse bowtiesandbooks

    "No amount of money, love, or support can protect you from a society intent on killing you for your blackness, and shows that a community that has been taught that anyone "not straight" is dangerous." All Boy's Aren't Blue is Johnson's memoir-manifesto; designed to encourage queer black boys to uncrate the layers of their masculinity and racialized existence. All Boys Aren't Blue is an effervescent interrogation of compulsory heterosexuality and crushing gender-centric expectations, a kaleidosc "No amount of money, love, or support can protect you from a society intent on killing you for your blackness, and shows that a community that has been taught that anyone "not straight" is dangerous." All Boy's Aren't Blue is Johnson's memoir-manifesto; designed to encourage queer black boys to uncrate the layers of their masculinity and racialized existence. All Boys Aren't Blue is an effervescent interrogation of compulsory heterosexuality and crushing gender-centric expectations, a kaleidoscope of intergenerational storytelling, and cultural connectedness. All Boys Aren't Blue is a testimony, a love letter, to black queer bodies and officially one of my most treasured books. This work teaches black boys and gender nonconforming individuals to subsist in a world that seeks to build us out of it. It is the most powerful exploration of gender I have read next to Freshwater and the most touching memoir I have consumed next to In the Dream House. I state this praise with great care as both aforementioned titles are in my personal literature hall of fame. I related to the essays with a level of intimacy that I cannot name and maintain that the work itself exists as a powerful tool to fight marginalization and the ways we might internalize it. George's writing is casual but engrossing as he fluidly explores a myriad of topics relevant to the black queer body through a critical lens while still managing to fill the pages with black joy, love, hope, and celebration. Preorder this book - it releases in April. I want everybody and their mama to read it. Notes: Undoubtedly some elitists will denounce this book's casual teen-centric writing style, but George is able to deliver his messages without complex prose, proving that colloquial language is All Boy's Aren't Blue's strength, not its weakness. Topics/themes: sex, consent, pleasure, trans/nonbinary, blackness, trauma, racism, homophobia, black boy joy, masculinity, sexual assault, molestation

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    While this book was hard to listen to at times, it packed SUCH a powerful punch and was an amazing memoir that touched on the intersections of being Black and queer. Definitely recommend checking this one out!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    This book was so good, it was so powerful. This is a powerful YA memoir about George exploring his sexuality, telling stories from his childhood, and it's written so beautifully. The story-telling in this book is so raw and I loved feeling as if we were growing up alongside him and rooting for him the whole way through. I listened to the audiobook which is read by the author and it was the best experience. I think this is a great place to start if you are new to nonfiction and you are looking fo This book was so good, it was so powerful. This is a powerful YA memoir about George exploring his sexuality, telling stories from his childhood, and it's written so beautifully. The story-telling in this book is so raw and I loved feeling as if we were growing up alongside him and rooting for him the whole way through. I listened to the audiobook which is read by the author and it was the best experience. I think this is a great place to start if you are new to nonfiction and you are looking for own voices stories, because it nearly reads like a story and I just really loved the complex family dynamics in this book, especially the stories of his Grandmother and when he eventually joins a Frat house and the brotherhood he finds among them. I love that he doesn't shy away from talking about the harder things and the mistakes he's made, it just makes it feel more real and raw. I really enjoyed this one and I'd highly recommend listening to the audiobook. And isn't that cover so gorgeous?? I live for it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    emma

    i liked this a million times more than i expected. review to come / 4.5 stars ------------- please tell the people that keep making these gorgeous flowery covers to take mercy on my tbr and my wallet (thanks to the publisher for the ARC) --- i am spending this month reading books by Black authors. please join me! book 1: The Stars and the Blackness Between Them book 2: Homegoing book 3: Let's Talk about Love book 4: Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race book 5: The Sellout book 6: Queenie book i liked this a million times more than i expected. review to come / 4.5 stars ------------- please tell the people that keep making these gorgeous flowery covers to take mercy on my tbr and my wallet (thanks to the publisher for the ARC) --- i am spending this month reading books by Black authors. please join me! book 1: The Stars and the Blackness Between Them book 2: Homegoing book 3: Let's Talk about Love book 4: Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race book 5: The Sellout book 6: Queenie book 7: Red at the Bone book 8: The Weight of the Stars book 9: An American Marriage book 10: Dear Ijeawaele book 11: Sing, Unburied, Sing book 12: Real Men Knit book 13: All Boys Aren't Blue

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kevin (Irish Reader)

    I absolutely loved this book. It might be a short book, but it will leave such a long lasting impression. This book also educated me on black lives and black queer lives, and for that I am so grateful that I read it. I would highly recommend you check out this memoir. I also read this during a 24 hour readathon, you can check out the video to hear more of my thoughts: https://youtu.be/_xMcY58rFaw I absolutely loved this book. It might be a short book, but it will leave such a long lasting impression. This book also educated me on black lives and black queer lives, and for that I am so grateful that I read it. I would highly recommend you check out this memoir. I also read this during a 24 hour readathon, you can check out the video to hear more of my thoughts: https://youtu.be/_xMcY58rFaw

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)

    I won't be writing a review in the typical sense, since it just feels wrong to review somebody's life experiences, especially when so far from my own. What I will say though is that despite this not being my usual kind of book to pick up, I'd highly encourage everyone to read it. It's so worth it. This memoir is geared towards a teenage audience who wouldn't typically hear about this kind of experience, a fact that often proves dangerous for so many people growing up without the right kind of su I won't be writing a review in the typical sense, since it just feels wrong to review somebody's life experiences, especially when so far from my own. What I will say though is that despite this not being my usual kind of book to pick up, I'd highly encourage everyone to read it. It's so worth it. This memoir is geared towards a teenage audience who wouldn't typically hear about this kind of experience, a fact that often proves dangerous for so many people growing up without the right kind of support. This memoir is raw, honest, and a story everybody should hear. I hope this reaches the hands of many.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ✨ jamieson ✨

    All Boys Aren't Blue is George M. Johnson's memoir, double manifesto, exploring his life as a Black gay man in America and what his queer identity means to him. This feels too personal to rate because it's intensely and painfully honest at times. Johnson brilliantly delineates the story of his life, sometimes with hope and humour, with retrospective sadness or anger, sometimes as means to educate or inform. It's the kind of queer book that just didn't exist a few years ago but needed to. This is All Boys Aren't Blue is George M. Johnson's memoir, double manifesto, exploring his life as a Black gay man in America and what his queer identity means to him. This feels too personal to rate because it's intensely and painfully honest at times. Johnson brilliantly delineates the story of his life, sometimes with hope and humour, with retrospective sadness or anger, sometimes as means to educate or inform. It's the kind of queer book that just didn't exist a few years ago but needed to. This is timely and urgent, and definitely an important read. While the casual tone aimed at a younger audience didn't always work for me, I appreciated it function within the text, allowing for accessibility and engagement for young readers. a must-read book in 2020. Period.

  11. 5 out of 5

    sarah xoxo

    All Boys Aren't Blue is powerful, real and honest. Storytelling at its rawest. All Boys Aren't Blue covers a myriad of topics from sexual discovery to family dynamics to internalised homophobia through short essays and anecdotes. Johnson pulls stories from his childhood and own experiences, then explores and relates them to issues others might be struggling with. The storytelling style is unembellished and blunt. No words are wasted, and the message hits home. We follow him from a child through All Boys Aren't Blue is powerful, real and honest. Storytelling at its rawest. All Boys Aren't Blue covers a myriad of topics from sexual discovery to family dynamics to internalised homophobia through short essays and anecdotes. Johnson pulls stories from his childhood and own experiences, then explores and relates them to issues others might be struggling with. The storytelling style is unembellished and blunt. No words are wasted, and the message hits home. We follow him from a child through to adulthood in a way where I felt as if I was growing up with him, making mistakes and learning along the way. Some stories were heartwarming, others hilarious and a few devastating- but they all wove together to tell a story that is desperately needed. In the YA community, we are getting more ownvoices books about black protagonists, or queer ones- but a notable gap is the intersectionalities that lie between them. That is why it is so important that books such as this one are being published. If only one black queer kid stumbles upon this book, it has been a success. If you are new to reading non-fiction, this could be a good place to start. The memoir-manifesto doesn't simply recite facts, but tells a personal, captivating and nuanced story that leaves you with a greater empathy. While this book may be short, it packs an emotional and lasting punch that I know I will be thinking about for a long time. Thank you to Macmillan Audio and Libro.fm for this ALC Release Date: 28 April 2020

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine from How Useful It Is

    This book was an informative and interesting read. I liked the story about the author's name. One thing we all have in common is worrying about what other people think of us, queer or not, it happens to all of us. Growing up with cousins and all being taken care of by granny, awesome as she was, sounds fun. She's definitely the coolest grandma ever. The cowboy boots story had me smiling. I liked the advice about speaking up and other advices, including time.
 This book started with an introductio This book was an informative and interesting read. I liked the story about the author's name. One thing we all have in common is worrying about what other people think of us, queer or not, it happens to all of us. Growing up with cousins and all being taken care of by granny, awesome as she was, sounds fun. She's definitely the coolest grandma ever. The cowboy boots story had me smiling. I liked the advice about speaking up and other advices, including time.
 This book started with an introduction about the author, how he came out to the world with a full head of hair and his aunt thought he was a girl. He discussed about gender and what society decide for a person and the activities that shape a person into that of boy or girl. He discussed about how the "n word" was buried so that the black community could be treated with respect. The author recalled being five and was a good actor so no other kids would make fun of him for the truth of his wants. This book is divided into four acts: a different kid, family, teenagers, and friends. 
All Boys Aren't Blue is well written and full of honest disclosures. I'm glad that George did have relatives that were lgbt to support him and his family the basic knowledge while growing up. It would have been harder if his family didn't accept him being different. I like the letters within the story. The family photos are an added bonus. I'm glad someone taught him sex, better a trusting someone than a stranger who will take advantage of an innocent first time. I like the reasons of the book title. This memoir sure pulled out all emotions from me. I highly recommend everyone to read this book! xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details Many thanks to Fierce Reads for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Clem (the villain's quest)

    3.5/5 trigger warnings for rape, use of the F word, use of the N word... other triggers are in the foreword of the book bc i can’t remember. an important story for an important voice, i highly recommend you to listen or read this book, it’s about the black queer experience in the US and if you want to be more educated on the black experience, this seems like a good place to start bc it’s YA non fiction. very easy to read, short and although redondant, the story does makes it point come across, and 3.5/5 trigger warnings for rape, use of the F word, use of the N word... other triggers are in the foreword of the book bc i can’t remember. an important story for an important voice, i highly recommend you to listen or read this book, it’s about the black queer experience in the US and if you want to be more educated on the black experience, this seems like a good place to start bc it’s YA non fiction. very easy to read, short and although redondant, the story does makes it point come across, and George does have an important experience to tell.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    Wow. I really don't read non-fiction to be honest, but after so many incredible reviews, I really wanted to read 'All Boys Aren't Blue' by George M. Johnson. I related so, so much to many of George's experiences growing up as a confused, gay teenager. I just loved this book so, so much, it was emotional to say the least. 5 stars!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julie Zantopoulos

    My only regret is that I listened to the audiobook (not a bad thing) and didn't wait for my copy to arrive so I could annotate/tab it. Such a powerful series of essays that traverse the topics of black family, queerness, acceptance, and finding your way in the world. I loved it. It wasn't always an easy read but it was a very powerful one and I'm glad I have it coming my way.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    for the right readers, i have no doubt that this book could fundamentally change their lives. george m. johnson believes that we always have the opportunity to be the blueprint for the next generation, and i think he lays his attempt to be that very beautifully in this book. this memoir/manifesto is a candid, chatty exploration of Blackness and queerness and how those two identities intersect. george m. johnson tackles a lot in a relatively short book. there are letters to his family (these were for the right readers, i have no doubt that this book could fundamentally change their lives. george m. johnson believes that we always have the opportunity to be the blueprint for the next generation, and i think he lays his attempt to be that very beautifully in this book. this memoir/manifesto is a candid, chatty exploration of Blackness and queerness and how those two identities intersect. george m. johnson tackles a lot in a relatively short book. there are letters to his family (these were my favorite parts--i leaked many a tear reading about him writing to his nanny and to his mother), there are depictions of sexual assault and violence, there is explicit discussion of virginity, there is lots of joy and there is lots of pain. there is so much bravery in how honest this book is, and i know it must've been incredibly painful to revisit and share moments of trauma and hurt. absolutely worth a read and, honestly, probably a reread, too, down the line.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Acqua

    All Boys Aren't Blue is a memoir aimed at a young adult audience that talks about growing up as a queer Black main in America. It's a powerful book and accessible for those who need it most, including teens who aren't used to reading nonfiction, while dealing with difficult topics. It's the kind of book that makes me glad I finally decided to start reading nonfiction in my free time this year. It's a necessary reminder that we can't sort people into boxes and we should push back against the socie All Boys Aren't Blue is a memoir aimed at a young adult audience that talks about growing up as a queer Black main in America. It's a powerful book and accessible for those who need it most, including teens who aren't used to reading nonfiction, while dealing with difficult topics. It's the kind of book that makes me glad I finally decided to start reading nonfiction in my free time this year. It's a necessary reminder that we can't sort people into boxes and we should push back against the societal tendency to do so; a reminder that we can't talk about different kinds of marginalization without considering the way they influence each other. What more can I say? I flew through this while highlighting every chapter in multiple places. I know I was wary of nonfiction as a teen, but there are certain things that fiction doesn't get, at least not right now, like how coming out can be like outside of the two extremes fictional coming out stories keep pushing at queer people, and so many other things. Highly recommended to pretty much everyone.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sol ~ TheBookishKing

    I started this on a whim because a friend of mine was reading it, not knowing what it was about or what to expect. But what I got was such a gripping story that I listened to it all in one sitting. I laughed and cried, and cried some more and that last line ... had me crying again lmfao. This is a memoir about a Queer Black Boy growing up and facing the racial/homophobic issues that come w/ the Country we live in. At times it was heartbreaking, at times it put the biggest smile on my face. And th I started this on a whim because a friend of mine was reading it, not knowing what it was about or what to expect. But what I got was such a gripping story that I listened to it all in one sitting. I laughed and cried, and cried some more and that last line ... had me crying again lmfao. This is a memoir about a Queer Black Boy growing up and facing the racial/homophobic issues that come w/ the Country we live in. At times it was heartbreaking, at times it put the biggest smile on my face. And the entire time it was beautifully raw. I definitely recommend that everyone give this a try (highly recommend the audio as it is the author who narrates the story <3) The author prefaces the book w/ trigger warnings for racial slurs, homophobic slurs, and sexual assault. I believe there may be a little more as well so please be careful and read the preface (or authors notes) before reading :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    THIS BOOK SHOULD BE READ BY EVERYONE. And I genuinely mean everyone especially the black community. Sometimes I don't feel like people understand the stories and experiences of those who are both POC and identify as Queer especially black women and men. I'm so happy that George decided to share his story. He talked about everything from coming out to toxic masculinity. Sometimes I'm proud of how far the Black community has come in relation to the LGBTQIA+ community; however, I'm also always remi THIS BOOK SHOULD BE READ BY EVERYONE. And I genuinely mean everyone especially the black community. Sometimes I don't feel like people understand the stories and experiences of those who are both POC and identify as Queer especially black women and men. I'm so happy that George decided to share his story. He talked about everything from coming out to toxic masculinity. Sometimes I'm proud of how far the Black community has come in relation to the LGBTQIA+ community; however, I'm also always reminded of how far we have to go. Just hearing about how Black trans women have been treated while protesting this past week has been quite disheartening. What I loved most about this book is that it was written in such a positive light. George speaks of his own experiences in such a rewarding and reassuring manner. This isn't a book written for queer men of color to discourage them or make them feel bad, but to uplift them and give them a perspective that is often left out of many narratives. Even though the book was not intended for me, I appreciated everything that he had to say and I could appreciate how honest and forthcoming he was about ALL of his experiences. One that really touched my heart was his discussion about his fraternity. If ya'll didn't know, I'm a part of a HBGLO (historically Black Greek letter organization) and sometimes I get worried about how toxic masculinity plays a role in whether queer men are able to join. It was so wonderful to see that positive relationships that came out of his journey being a part of Alpha Phi Alpha. I think sometimes as readers we forget about the importance of intersectionality. It's great to see books about queer POC's written by queer POC's. We need more of these books in the world. Especially books that are positive and give hope. If you haven't picked up this book I highly recommend it. Listen to it on audio because George reads it!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lilith Black Bee

    5 beautiful stars!!! Review to come.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    This was such a beautiful and brilliant read. A story of the author’s growing up, and ultimately his story of finding himself, this book might deal with many difficult themes but ultimately it’s about a loving family, a brotherhood of amazing friends and full of hope for the next generation of queer Black teens. A must read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    This was absolutely phenomenal. Truly one of the best memoirs I've ever read. It was emotional, hard hitting, uplifting, devastating, frustrating, funny, heartwarming and painfully important. Johnson's way of writing is natural, chatty, filled with emotion and his words chosen with care. There's not one single person who wouldn't benefit from reading this book. There's no underestimating the life changing good this book can do in the hands of people who need it most. TW: sexual assault, use of raci This was absolutely phenomenal. Truly one of the best memoirs I've ever read. It was emotional, hard hitting, uplifting, devastating, frustrating, funny, heartwarming and painfully important. Johnson's way of writing is natural, chatty, filled with emotion and his words chosen with care. There's not one single person who wouldn't benefit from reading this book. There's no underestimating the life changing good this book can do in the hands of people who need it most. TW: sexual assault, use of racial and homophobic slurs

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sleepless Dreamer

    I feel like I've fulfilled my duty as a queer person by reading a queer book for Pride month. Reviews are meant to be honest so here goes. I don't think this book is as good as the hype around it.  Don't get me wrong, it's good. Johnson takes us through a journey of his youth as a Black queer kid. From bullying to first sexual encounters, this is a classical coming-of-age novel with social commentary sprinkled through. Johnson doesn't hesitate to share the bad and the good of his upbringing, pain I feel like I've fulfilled my duty as a queer person by reading a queer book for Pride month. Reviews are meant to be honest so here goes. I don't think this book is as good as the hype around it.  Don't get me wrong, it's good. Johnson takes us through a journey of his youth as a Black queer kid. From bullying to first sexual encounters, this is a classical coming-of-age novel with social commentary sprinkled through. Johnson doesn't hesitate to share the bad and the good of his upbringing, painting the life of a queer and Black kid, abound with code-switching, a supportive family and confusion about identity.  However, I felt Johnson was doing a lot of telling and not nearly enough showing. At times, his commentary on his childhood was interesting but for the most part, it felt like he was shouting at us, "Look at how meaningful and relevant this is!!". And truly, it is but I felt like I was being spoon fed ideas that I should and could have reached by myself. By being so involved in the storytelling of his life, Johnson didn't really let us involve ourselves in his story. For example, there's a part where he discusses how he always thought his name was Matthew and suddenly he learned his first name is actually George. It led to a point where some people called him Matthew and others George as well as other experiences in school and with his parents.  Of course, this is so symbolic and interesting in a queer perspective, as queer people do have a special connection to names and their representation (like I have a non-gendered name and when I applied to jobs and got asked if I'm a man or a woman, I never knew what to answer). I think a common queer experience is that moment when you consider whether to change your name. However, when Johnson stresses that it's interesting in a queer way, he takes away our ability to build something ourselves. He doesn't do this in any kind of literary or poetic way, it's just flat out analysis.  This book is at its best when Johnson digs deep into the system, taking his own experiences and showing the way they relate to various struggles. Like, either my elementary school didn't have Black History Month or I just don't remember it but in any case, we really don't focus nearly enough on making sure kids have role models that they can see themselves in them. He makes an eloquent case for why it's important. His own experiences are broadcast into wider social problems and it is fascinating. As a whole, if you've never read anything about Black people or queer people, this might be really interesting for you. If you've read about this topic already, I don't think this book adds many new ideas to the conversation. It comes across as repetitive at times. I'm glad this book exists and Johnson does have much to say but yeah, I can't say I loved this. What I'm Taking with Me - Idk man, there seems to be more negatives than positives in the sorority life, so glad that's not a thing here.  - His grandmother seems like a truly special person. - It was interesting hearing about the way he explained switching from a mixed space to a Black one (like a Black college). Like, I imagine it's something white people just don't think about.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay (pawsomereads)

    This memoir was absolutely beautiful. It was an incredibly impactful read as we learn about George M. Johnson’s life, growing up as a black gay man in America. It was equally saddening and uplifting at the same time. I felt that I learned so much from Johnson’s account of his personal experiences. He really opened up about so many of the people and events in his life that helped him find himself and made him into who he is today, as he worked to accept who he truly was in an internal struggle. I This memoir was absolutely beautiful. It was an incredibly impactful read as we learn about George M. Johnson’s life, growing up as a black gay man in America. It was equally saddening and uplifting at the same time. I felt that I learned so much from Johnson’s account of his personal experiences. He really opened up about so many of the people and events in his life that helped him find himself and made him into who he is today, as he worked to accept who he truly was in an internal struggle. I think that every single person who reads this can relate to one aspect or another, from the family dynamics to finding new friends in college to just trying to figure out who you are and where you belong. I think that this book will help so many people who are/were struggling with their identity as Johnson was when he was growing up. I hope that this book helps others find themselves and not be afraid to share who they are with the world. This is such an important novel to have available for people to read, and I thank the author for sharing his life with others so we can all learn and grow.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    What an amazing and powerful memoir. I am so grateful for Johnson for writing such a brave account of his life as a queer black man. Such a heartfelt account that I was completely immersed in. I really loved this one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Starlah

    I read this via audiobook which is read by the author. This is a non-fiction memoir and, almost kind of a manifesto, of George M. Johnson's life - who is a journalist and queer activist, growing up Black and queer. It's a series of personal essays exploring his childhood, adolescence, and college years. From his memory of getting his teeth kicked in at the age of 5, to his first sexual relationships, and beyond. This book almost had me in tears, my eyes were literally watering. it covers so many t I read this via audiobook which is read by the author. This is a non-fiction memoir and, almost kind of a manifesto, of George M. Johnson's life - who is a journalist and queer activist, growing up Black and queer. It's a series of personal essays exploring his childhood, adolescence, and college years. From his memory of getting his teeth kicked in at the age of 5, to his first sexual relationships, and beyond. This book almost had me in tears, my eyes were literally watering. it covers so many topics: gender identity, toxic masculinity, Black culture, brotherhood, family, systemic racism, structural marginalization, consent, as well as Black joy. I am so happy that George M. Johnson decided to share his story. This is a book I want everyone to read. Despite a lot of the gut-wrenching topics this book covers, George M. Johnson's writing style really wrote all of this, somehow, in a positive light. There was still a feeling of hope and light to everything. It is a book to encourage and uplift, specifically queer Black men, but more than people than that. To show us all a perspective that is often left out of many narratives. I highly recommend this. It is brutal and raw, there is a list of content warnings at the beginning of it that include sexual assault, molestation, loss of virginity, homophobia, racism, and anti-blackness. But this book is also uplifting in a way that is much needed for our queer youth, especially the Black folks.

  27. 5 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    Phenomenal, urgent, and important. If there's any book that you should read for Pride 2020, let it be All Boys Aren't Blue. - A memoir-manifesto for Black queer folx everywhere; Johnson tells his story growing up, exploring topics such as masculinity, heteronormativity, the intersections of Black identity and being queer, and family. - I listened to the audiobook for this book and if you are able to get your hands on the audiobook, I highly recommend it. It's narrated by Johnson himself and heari Phenomenal, urgent, and important. If there's any book that you should read for Pride 2020, let it be All Boys Aren't Blue. - A memoir-manifesto for Black queer folx everywhere; Johnson tells his story growing up, exploring topics such as masculinity, heteronormativity, the intersections of Black identity and being queer, and family. - I listened to the audiobook for this book and if you are able to get your hands on the audiobook, I highly recommend it. It's narrated by Johnson himself and hearing him speak his truth was just... incredible. - I loved how this book was incredibly accessible for younger readers, readers who may be unfamiliar with topics of queerness and identity, and brilliantly weaves storytelling into his memoir. - I found the exploration of identity and how Blackness is experienced fantastic. Johnson delves into Black identity, and explores its many complex intersections (with sexuality, with masculinity, with history, with gender) without making it complex. - Honestly, please read this book. Trigger/content warnings (provided in the first chapter of the book): (view spoiler)[sexual assault (graphic), death of family member, cancer, physical assault, use of racial slurs, sex (hide spoiler)]

  28. 5 out of 5

    Romie

    once you start reading this book, I promise you you won't want to stop until you're done. it's raw and hard to read at times, but it's honest, it's important, it's someone's reality. I think about the queer Black kids who will get their hands on this book and feel seen, feel understood, and this makes me so happy. it's deeply honest. trigger warnings for: trauma, grief, sexual assault, death of loved ones thank you libro.fm and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the audio listening copy

  29. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler The quote that will make you want to pick this book up: “When people ask me how I got into activism, I often say, “The first person you are ever an activist for is yourself.” If I wasn’t gonna fight for me, who else was?” Review: “We are not as different as you think, and all our stories matter and deserve to be celebrated and told.” All Boys Aren’t Blue is incredibly thought-provoking. Johnson’s writing is casual yet intimate, it feels Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler The quote that will make you want to pick this book up: “When people ask me how I got into activism, I often say, “The first person you are ever an activist for is yourself.” If I wasn’t gonna fight for me, who else was?” Review: “We are not as different as you think, and all our stories matter and deserve to be celebrated and told.” All Boys Aren’t Blue is incredibly thought-provoking. Johnson’s writing is casual yet intimate, it feels like he could be sitting right beside you as he tells you about his beloved grandmother “Nanny” or discusses growing up and hiding parts of himself to fit in. Even when discussing traumatic experiences and heartbreaking losses, the book also offers hope and an outstretched hand, reminding you that you are not alone in this fight called life. The common denominator of the chapters is that you feel the heart put in between these pages – Johnson covers a myriad of relevant topics, from racism, toxic masculinity, and sexual abuse all the way to responsibility, dealing with unspeakable losses, and the impending task of taking care of your elders, which all hit you right in the feels. It’s an honest and unflinching exploration of society’s compulsory heterosexuality and overwhelming gender expectations, but also of intergenerational and familial conflicts and connections, of not measuring up and then wondering why anyone ever even would want to measure up to expectations placed upon you by someone else instead of setting them for yourself. In the afterword, Johnson talks about how he believes that the queer community, right now, at this very moment, has the chance to be the blueprint for the next generation – to “trial and error” their way through life and decide what works, and what definitely has to go. In this memoir-manifesto, Johnson spotlights and exposes the trauma inflicted upon the black queer community but he also lends hope and encourages others to look beyond the boundaries that society has set for them and fight their way out of it. It’s hard to put into words how much this memoir will mean to a multitude of people but in particular black queer people. Yes, there is more media now representing the interests of black people and queer people, but intersectional representation does not get the attention it needs and deserves. All Boys Aren’t Blue should be mandatory reading for everyone because it inspires you to work harder to make this world a more open, more accepting place. It is a fight that’s never done fighting but reading this book reinvigorates your spirit and so I’ll just leave you with my favourite quote from the book where Johnson talks about being true to yourself and hope that will convince you to pick up a copy: “This won’t always be easy, I’m not going to lie. I won’t sell you the fable of “It Gets Better” like media tries to do without offering how. The how comes in being willing to take a chance on yourself and create the support system you wish to have. I would also tell you to reclaim that campaign slogan and use it from a place of power. Tell folks, especially those who are non-queer and non-Black, to “Make it Better.” Something getting better doesn’t happen without action, and you have every right to ask for that.” Johnson is right, we have the right to ask for that. And we also have the chance to Make It Better.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tiernan

    Such a beautiful memoir of growing up Black & Queer — I’ve never read a memoir focused so heavily on the young adult years, and George M. Johnson structures it nicely. Highly recommend. Such a beautiful memoir of growing up Black & Queer — I’ve never read a memoir focused so heavily on the young adult years, and George M. Johnson structures it nicely. Highly recommend.

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