Cover Image: All Boys Aren't Blue

All Boys Aren't Blue

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is a great memoir-manifesto, as the author says, displayed with startling courage, vulnerability and verve. Throughout, Johnson continually opens themselves up, telling their story of gender, blackness, queerness, of their <i>life</i>. Pointed so vividly as it is towards young adults and those who are often in the midst of grappling with their identities whilst in the middle of a tumultuous life stage anyway, I thought this was a very interesting and new way to read an autobiographical book. 

Perhaps the most striking part of this is the depth of honesty here. The presentation of the stories is both full of love and care, vulnerability and the violence that unfortunately forms so many parts of grappling with these identities in this world. There's both great hope, honesty and pain here. This will, for many, be absolutely necessary. It's a wonderful, piercing look into their life and how their thoughts have changed, how their experiences have shaped them, how the world has reacted to this. 

I can see this being immeasurably valuable to young adults struggling with these questions or even just people looking to read a biographical stance, to delve deeper into this. Ultimately, this book is quite clearly and explicitly for them and I've rated it accordingly for the people who need it. I think it's touching, moving, heartfelt, and achingly vulnerable.
Was this review helpful?
Very much enjoyed this book! At the beginning I was a bit unsure about the tone for a YA audience, but this is one of those books that have been written with courage and vulnerability by a young person that ought to speak to many of us who struggle with finding our places in the world. There wasn’t much of a structure, with the author preferring to tackle subjects, even though there’s a broad chronology. 

Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy.
Was this review helpful?
The themes of Blackness and Queerness, more importantly their intersection, are the key focus of this memoir-style book. The messages presented are so important, and Johnson's story is without a doubt, one that will resonate with so many people. I resonated with many messages myself, particularly in the first half and I credit Johnson's ability to present ideas. In this, I rate the book highly.

The execution of said messages, in my opinion, is where this book falls short, First of all, it seems very disjointed; I think it could have been even more impactful if the structure had been utilised perhaps chronologically. I also felt like some things didn't quite fit the meanings Johnson was trying to give them. At times it felt like he was using other people's trauma to make his more nuanced, when in reality, his own trauma is valid and enough. I was very uncomfortable, as a trans person, reading the chapter about his transgender cousin, where she is mis-gendered with the reasoning that that is how he knew her... The chapter about 9/11 also seemed an odd way to show he had a crush. 

Overall, it is an important read. It is emotional and challenging, and I know it will mean much to so many people.
Was this review helpful?
Never before had I heard of a memoir aimed explicitly at young adults so I snapped up the opportunity to read 'All Boys Aren't Blue' by George M. Johnson. I was barely a chapter in when it started dawning on me just how important this incredibly powerful book is going to be for my students to read, particularly those questioning their gender or sexual identity. Johnson has spent his life navigating his identity as a queer black man, and he shines a light on the lack of explicit discussion and guidance he had growing up on the intersection of these worlds. 

The book is structured as a series of loosely chronological essays, spanning reflections on Johnson's family life growing up, and the influence of his formidable yet inspirational Nanny, through school and to university. I respected how Johnson laid his soul bare, sharing moments of past trauma with honesty and resilience, always bringing every story back to an important lesson he wish he has been taught as a queer and questioning youngster. Alongside moments which rip your heart from your chest, there are moments of unbridled joy, such as Johnson's fraternity experience of true brotherhood in college and finally exploring his sexuality on his own terms. Johnson balances the more sombre moments with aspects of hope, highlighting his talent as a writer as he crafts the subject matter with his young adult audience always in mind.

Overall, every school library needs a copy of this book. Hopefully, with Johnson's book in hand, today's generation of teenagers can know that they are not alone when grappling with their identity and how they can start to manage this process in their own lives. I cannot wait to read more from Johnson as I can tell there is still a lot more he can share with his readers. Until then, this one is a definite 5 star read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher who provided an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
All Boys Aren’t Blue 🌸🌻💙

I have been wanting to read this for so long so I was super excited when I was accepted for a copy through @netgalley - thanks so much to the publisher! 

George’s memoir is a beautiful and honest collection of essays exploring his childhood and growing up whilst learning who he is and how he can be himself in a world that has not made that easy for Black queer people. 

This would be a really important read for young LGBTQIA+ individuals who are searching for books exploring intersectionality of identities. 

The stories of love within family and friendships were described so powerfully and remind you how important those human connections are. 

This was definitely raw at times and it didn’t shy away from the truth but it was exactly how it needed to be to have the required impact. 

I’d definitely recommend this, and look how beautiful the cover is!! 

4.5⭐️
Was this review helpful?
If I could give this 100000 stars, I would. It will save lives and that's not just important, it's vital. This book is vital and I can't believe this has been graced to me.
Was this review helpful?
“Love who you want to love, and do it unapologetically, including that face you see every day in the mirror.”

This is a memoir manifesto that will touch on so many incredibly important themes such as sex education, views on toxic masculinity, self-love and self-reflection, being black and queer, medical racism. 

“Elevating a community viewed as below you to having the same equity and equality harms no one but the oppressor.”

Johnson makes it clear that history is extremely white-washed, and I particularly enjoyed this because I have called out teachers in the past with my white privilege to diversify the curriculum. This book is easily added to a recommendation list for my teachers.

“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?”

I just know that the day I reread this book via audio it will be a good day. This book made me want to pick up more memoirs. There is nothing better than an author encouraging you with his own voice. I will make sure to read more memoirs in 2021. 

Raw. Moving. Hurtful. Gorgeous. Heartbreaking. Beautiful. Hopeful. 

A book about how the people around you shape you & how we still have a lot to learn.
Was this review helpful?
A wonderfully raw and emotional memoir, which explores gender and identity whilst growing up in America. Such a heartwarming and heartbreaking read! I loved the closeness George had with his family and how they were all there for each other through so many tough times. A brilliant read for anyone but fans of The Black Flamingo will definitely enjoy this.
Was this review helpful?
I've heard so much love for this book from early reviewers and people from places it was published first, so I knew I had to read it when I could, hence my excitement when I saw it on Netgalley and got approved.

This is a fantastic memoir about a black, queer persons life, starting from their first traumatic experience as a child, travelling through their youth and realising they had to wear a mask to fit in and be liked, up until adult years. I'm really not sure why I first thought it was going to be in the form of verse, though.

Although heartbreaking that a child at an early age felt they weren't normal because of who they were, ultimately it's also got a lot of hope embedded within each telling of tales around growing up and finding who you are, and that who you are is important.

I absolutely loved this memoir, especially because it's funny as well as truthful, so has a nice balance, which I think gives the desired effect as it's aimed at YA. You want the truth, but you don't want to be put off of... well.. life, and living your truth. The family pictures featured inside were so lovely too.

The chapter that was a letter to George's little brother was such a beautiful thing to read. It brought tears to my eyes and was such an uplifting, kind letter. This was followed by a beautiful chapter on George's nanny, which made me feel even more emotion because she shares the same first name as my nanny! The beautiful messages just kept coming with the chapter on George's cousin, Hope, and the letter to their mum.

I also loved that George still found comfort in prayer despite feeling so isolated for much of their life and that they still felt that faith was for anyone. So often, religion and sexuality butt heads, but it was just so nice to see it harmonious.

This memoir covered so much: sexuality, black identity, growing up, death, assault, oppression, brotherhood, family, acceptance (in many forms) and much more. It was more than I expected and so much really spoke to me on a personal level. This was phenomenal and everyone should read it, even if you don't fall under the lgbtqia+ umbrella, it's worth a read for sure.
Was this review helpful?
A stunning and emotional memoir centring what it is like to be young, queer and Black in America. Johnson's writing is personal and open, delving into the nuances of family and identity with honesty and frankness. While this is written for teens, I would recommend it for anyone as an important read.
Was this review helpful?
‘Love who you want to love and do it unapologetically.’

It feels a little weird to review an ARC of a book that was published ten months ago. On the other hand, I’m so glad that this book will also be published in Europe (GB), and I was honored I could read it as an ARC.

Because there are already so many reviews, I want to highlight one thing. In the first chapter, George M. Johnson mentions how society thinks about gender, even before birth.
‘Gender is one of the biggest projections placed into children at birth...I often wonder what this world would look like if people were simply told: ‘You are having a baby with a penis or a vagina or other genitalia.’

A couple of months ago, I read ‘The Prophets by Robert Jones jr.’, and part of his story was the queer African history where, in his story, children didn’t have a gender at birth. They all grew up gender-neutral and got to chose their gender later on, male, female, both, or none of the above. And that’s exactly what George M. Johnson points out:
‘What if parents let their child explore their own gender instead of pushing them down one of the only two roads society tells us exist?’

My sons had a vacuum cleaner, a kitchen, dolls, cars, trains, etc. But still, they’ve always been boys to me, from the moment they were born. And I’m quite sure now they both identify as male (15 and 18), but what if they hadn’t? This memoir is not only important for Black queer kids but also for the rest of us, parents, people who’d want to be a parent, teachers, and so on, to understand how we’re so used to label everyone in society and what that does to our kids. For me, this story is food for thought.

Finally, I want to scream out how beautiful this cover is!!!
Was this review helpful?
All Boys Aren't Blue is a memoir about growing up black and queer, from childhood to teenage years to college. Using short essays to structure the book, George M. Johnson covers topics like family, masculinity, sexuality, sex, consent, gender, and being Black in a way which focuses on individual experience but also draws out advice and powerful statements for people dealing with similar things.

Described as a YA memoir, the book is particularly aimed at teenagers also navigating these issues, but is a powerful read for anybody. The style is very conversational, which works well and makes it easy to get drawn into Johnson's life. It seems perhaps obvious that there needs to be more books like this, using the memoir to share experiences that might not always get told, but aimed more at teenagers who need to hear these things not always from a fictional perspective.
Was this review helpful?
I've wanted this book for a very long time and when I saw it available on NetGalley, I was so excited. 

This book did not disappoint, it was beautiful and moving. This is such an important memoir to read, not just for those who identify with Johnson, but for everyone to understand their difficulties.

Johnson explores his identity through stories of his growing up as a queer, black boy in the USA, and each story he told shows how it shaped him into the person he is today and shows young people that they are not alone in their identity. 

Definitely a book that should be read by everyone! 

Now to get my hands on a physical copy so it can look great on my shelf...!
Was this review helpful?
All Boys Aren't Blue is a beautifully poignant memoir, exploring the intersectionality between the black and queer idenities of the author. 

This was my first foray into non fiction (i know, i know) and it was a great place to start. It is basically the authors story, of both their trauma and joy, and as a medical student I love hearing peoples life stories and this is basically what this was. I also loved the points the author made towards dismantling toxic masculalinty and the systematic racism black people face. At times harrowing and heartbreaking, this was a very powerful memoir that will stick with me for a long time to come. 

I'm not really sure how to rate non-fiction, as I don't really have anything to compar eit too, but i'm giving it 5 stars to help support the author and hopefully get this book into more peoples hands!!
Was this review helpful?
“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?”
-
What a truly magnetic and wonderful memoir. A  must read for all, especially those in the LGBTQIAP+ community. A raw look into what it was like growing up ‘different’ in a world that you felt and knew wasn’t ready for you yet.
-
With their heart fully on their sleeve, George M. Johnson tells their story from childhood to present day, growing up in both the Black community and the LGBTQIAP+ community, the ups, the terrible downs and all that’s in between. I wanna start by thanking George for being so open with their story, and for all they will be doing for young people in our community that are currently feeling lost and as if they don’t belong.
-
One of the main things for me that stuck out in this memoir is that even though George grew up in a family that was pretty immersed in the LGBTQIAP+ way of life with a surprising amount of the family falling into the community, George still didn’t feel fully comfortable to be the their true self until later in life, which is a stark reminder that even though some of  those closest to you may accept you wholly, there’s that feeling deep down that the world will not, and that is heart breaking and worryingly relatable. I truly do hope the world moves in a better way, but knowing people like George are in it, its nice to feel we are in good hands moving forward.
-
A massive thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the eARC! I truly adored this booik with every ounce of my heart!
Was this review helpful?
This is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. It managed to transport me into a life completely different from my own. It was honest, emotional, hopeful and informative. The hype is justly deserved.
Was this review helpful?
I thought this was really disappointing. Normally I like this sort of thing but it was slow, written without any great skill and seemed to focus on the wrong things. So much about facets of his life were presented in really broad context at length whilst never delivering on details, for example the induction into the fraternity and his "feminine" behaviours. He talks about growing up in a family with lots of diversity in gender and sexuality, yet never explains why he felt that he couldn't come out until he was 25. Are these experiences transferable to other young people? There's a lot of privilege here. To use the title All Boys Aren't Blue implies elements of gender non-conformance, but this is a cis-man's memoir. I hated the "as you'll learn later" that kept cropping up - structure better! I'm surprised this was published by Penguin, it felt self-published.
Was this review helpful?
All Boys Aren’t Blue is a collection of personal essays from Johnson’s childhood, adolescence and college life. It walks us through their various experiences which helped shape them to be who they are now. It is directed specifically at the queer black community and anyone who is struggling with their identity. It was so powerful and so full of hope that I had tears in my eyes almost the entire time I was reading it. I would say this is a must read for anyone looking to learn and understand about the struggles and prejudices that the black queer community lives through everyday. 
No rating as I feel inadequate to rate someone’s life experiences.
Was this review helpful?