Title: All Boys Aren’t Blue
Author: George M. Johnson
Audience: Young Adult
Narrator: the author
Length: 5 hours, 12 minutes (304 pages)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr); Macmillan Audio
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Content Warnings: sexual assault, rape, homophobia, sexual content, death, racism, transphobia, incest, violence
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.
I was inspired to read this YA memoir earlier in the year when it was in the media as a banned book. I think it is so important for books like to make it into the hands of their intended audience.
All Boys Aren’t Blue is a poignant memoir about George M. Johnson’s experiences growing up as a queer, Black kid. The book is heavy and includes frank discussions of marginalization, identity, toxic masculinity, sexuality, and abuse. Many scenes are uncomfortable to read, but they are not salacious or inappropriate (beyond the fact that inappropriate things happened to Johnson). Johnson honestly shares their experiences to provide today’s queer youth with answers to questions they didn’t know how to ask.
I highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by the author, for older queer teens and allies.