All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto
Written by George M. Johnson
Ages 14-18 | 320 Pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Are you a current high school student reading a memoir for your English or composition class? Or perhaps you’re past your school days but remember having to read a memoir sometime during middle or high school? ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE absolutely should have been that memoir.
This “memoir-manifesto” comes from an author of not one but two underrepresented demographics in most high school curricula. That’s right--George M. Johnson (they/them) is the Black queer author we didn’t know we needed. In each chapter of this young adult memoir, Johnson recounts an important or pivotal moment in their upbringing that has helped them to reconcile their Blackness and their queerness, identities that are--at least according to Johnson--sometimes at odds in their story. But you don’t need to be Black or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community to enjoy this book and finish reading with a few key takeaways.
Johnson begins their memoir with a chapter titled “Smile,” in which they discuss being bullied as a child, and how this bullying affected the way they felt about themself and their smile for years to come. While this moment and many others recollected in Johnson’s memoir are unique to their story, there is also something relatable in each chapter. Whether you’ve also experienced bullying or had to navigate your identity, there is a chapter in this memoir for you.
Perhaps most praiseworthy about Johnson’s memoir is the way that they are able to describe and relate difficult topics and experiences. It’s not easy to write about sexual assault, loss of virginity, homophobia, racism, and death of a loved one--much less read about it. Yet Johnson’s carefully crafted narrative includes all of the above because they know that many people reading their book have encountered or will encounter such experiences. As Johnson explains in the author’s note at the beginning of the book, these chapters are specifically for these readers. Johnson wishes for them to be seen and heard in this book’s pages.
If you’re looking for a book that has it all, then look no further! Covering a vast array of topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy, ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE is the perfect primer for those eager to be allies of both the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities. Request it here.
By: Derek Wiebke Jul 25, 2021