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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 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.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published April 28, 2020

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About the author

George M. Johnson

18 books645 followers
George Matthew Johnson, more commonly known as George M. Johnson, is a queer Black American author, journalist, and activist. They are best known as the author of the memoir-manifesto All Boys Aren't Blue.

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5 stars
12,397 (41%)
4 stars
12,448 (41%)
3 stars
4,014 (13%)
2 stars
632 (2%)
1 star
178 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,052 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews112k followers
June 14, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
October 27, 2020
so who the fuck let it slip that I cannot resist books with beautiful people wearing beautiful flower crowns 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 queer, 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
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 509 books402k followers
September 27, 2022
I read this a while back, but I suppose I needed some time to process what I'd experienced. Johnson writes with clarity and power about their experience growing as a Queer Black child in New Jersey, not knowing where they fit in and wishing, as they say themselves, that they had a book like this one to provide some guidance, or at least reassurance, that life would get better, and that there was a path to better acceptance and happiness. The book is structured in a series of short, sharply rendered personal essays, making this a quick and compelling read. Their autobiographical stories are at turns beautiful, sad, painful and joyful, much like life itself. And while this book will be so meaningful to many LGBTQIA+ youth, looking for understanding and representation in an often cruel world, it is also completely relatable to any young reader who has ever felt like they didn't belong, or weren't understood by family or peers. Highly recommended!
2 reviews8 followers
January 2, 2021
I have been debating on whether I should leave a review of this book because as a Gay Black Man I understand the importance of representation and having anything that gives voice to the struggles faced while occupying multiple marginalized spaces. However, I also think for those putting out "manifestos" we must hold accountable truths. With that being said, here is my review.

I felt this book was problematic on so many levels. Besides this book being poorly written (who edited this book), this author centers himself in everything. I can understand you might say "well it's his memoir", but let me explain.

The book starts with his "trauma" of having his front teeth kicked out when he was 5 years old. One would think that he was gay bashed, but he wasn't. It was just that he got jumped. That's it. He conveniently forgets what the fight was about as he states he can't remember what was said, yet this is put in the book to almost read as though he was gay bashed at a young age and it was a reach of all reaches.

He discusses his father being in the hospital (the day of his 21st bday party that he still went to); he has a chapter where he discusses "name trauma" trying to connect it to what trans people go through. But his story of "trauma" was when he discovered his real name was George and not Matthew...are you serious? People actually have name trauma and his isn't cutting it. And speaking of names, he allows people to call him whatever they want and even says "it doesn't matter what they call you." But it does George, it does. Also, in regards to name, the chapter where he talks about his transgender cousin Hope, he decides it appropriate to still type out her dead name and refer to her and her friends (also transgender) as the "funniest things" at the barbecue...things? Ok. And he didn't just stop at those stereotypes, when referring to Beyonce he called her "sassy." It should also be mentioned that he feels the reason why his memory of his cousin Hope is in black and white is because as queer brown people, our lives are rarely in black and white...give me a break. Man you are reaching.

Speaking of words, did you know that he created the term "Honey Child"? That was news to me because as I am older than the author and from Baltimore, honey child was used by so many people so the fact that he states he created gay language in New Jersey before he knew what it was was laughable at best. This is also coming from an author who gave Nina Simone credit for Strange Fruit. While her rendition was great, Billie Holiday's version is the one that the youth should know. Why is he trying to have history start in the 60's? Additionally, when he does present a chapter that was to highlight the conflict in history as it was (is) taught to us, a way to whitewash our own brown history, he uses undated quotes from Abraham Lincoln to counter the narrative of him being a hero to Black people. While I am not on the Abraham Lincoln bandwagon, I will blame the editors and publishing company for allowing this to happen. When you leave quotes undated, there is no way to get an accurate timeline of personal evolution. Are we to be known by our worst quotes and taken out of context? I am all for calling people out, but let's do it in a way that doesn't leave room for this type of scrutiny. Maybe I am asking too much as a reader, but this is just an example of little to no research or work done in this text.

Furthermore, I don't know what Catholic High School starts a week after labor day, but have him tell it, his first day of his junior year was on September 11, 2001 (a Tuesday). How do I know? I just happened to be in college and 6 blocks away from the Towers when they were hit. It's beyond frustrating when people try to position themselves to connect with history in a way that wasn't real (but maybe I am wrong). And why even mention 9/11 when the chapter is about him crushing hard on a boy?

His journey is surface level at best. Apparently he's trying hard to be "masculine" and it wasn't until he successfully became an Alpha (fraternity) and he reached the goal of masculine signifiers did he say that he could define masculinity on his own terms. Never once did he tell the youth to stop trying to follow the crowd. Too many effeminate queer brown males have died from suicide because of the bullying within the gay community. How often do we see "no fats, no fems" and now we have this guy who clearly seems to have been part of that crowd (sorry for assuming) not once declare how problematic his walk was.

His letter to his brother basically reads "thank you so much for your strength" for him having a gay brother...what? Why are you apologizing and congratulating your brother for being your brother. We have to move beyond apologizing to others for our existence.

As I said, the book lacked insight; depth; and any critical theory at all. It read as though he bought a prompt journal and each chapter was his answers to the prompts. This author seems like he's the type of person to go to a support group of gun violence survivors only to discuss how his paper cut connects him to them.

But here's the real problem, he was given the platform to do this. When reading this book, he actually has a story worth being told (we all do), but I just don't get the sense that this author has even gone to therapy let alone reconciled his memories and the affects they truly had on him before he wrote this book. It is sad because we need more voices, more representation, but this was just not good. I am tired of people with a decent follower account given carte blanche to disrespect the writing community; those who are actually brilliant theorists, that can successfully connect experiences to philosophies that can get people to think.

After reading all the reviews of this book, I am sure my review will be lost in the sea of praise and if it gets to the author, he will most likely look at it as me being mean and causing him trauma, but I would hope he could find some truth into what I am saying. I hope that that truth can lead him to produce better work. I don't think his voice shouldn't be heard, but I do think he needs to sit with these things for a bit before presenting them to young adults.

Maybe the themes presented will lead you to talk to your children. Maybe they will lead you to do self reflection. His goal was to get you to use him as a guide, so I pray that people can use this as a jumping off point and actually educate themselves. For this book to be for the youth and discussing Black queerness there was no mention of James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey...all famous black queer people of our past.

Ok, I am off my soapbox now. I host a book club and this was our book for December. At the end of each book we are tasked to give this a grade; the grades given were: D, F, I, F-, F- That sums it up for me.
Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
June 11, 2020
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
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.3k followers
July 18, 2020
Truly I don’t know how to review this book, so I’m just going to list a few things about it here.

- Rarely have I encountered a memoir as honest as this one.
- Eventually I felt like it was a little dumbed down???
- And it’s called a “YA memoir”...I don’t know what that means but it seems unnecessary
- Despite that & feeling kind of slumpy when I picked this up, I fell into it right away.
- It’s so well-written and compulsively readable!!!
- There is just so much forgiveness and truth and wisdom in this book. It’s miraculous to read.

Bottom line: Read the first letter of each bullet point and then tell me how cool and impressive I am in the comments below! And then read this book.

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
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,537 reviews9,795 followers
May 23, 2023
At the conclusion of this stunning Memoir, the author, George M. Johnson writes, if one person is helped by my story, than it was all worth it.

I think we can be confident that many, many people will be helped by reading this. Lives will be inspired, changed and possibly saved; not just young people either.

I am not even going to bother writing a full review for All Boys Aren't Blue. The bottom line is this book should be read by everyone.

Pick it up for yourself and you will see just what I mean. I highly recommend the audiobook, read by the author. Incredibly well done.
Profile Image for Jesse On Youtube .
66 reviews4,468 followers
January 14, 2020
"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
February 7, 2023

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When I found out that ALL BOYS AREN'T BLUE was the second-most banned book in the U.S., I made getting a copy a top priority. Banning books is so wrong; not only is it unconstitutional, but I find it to be a type of thought-policing. It also makes me wonder-- what's in this book that you're so desperately trying to hide? There is literally no faster way to make me read something than by unhauling it from a library, and best be sure that I'm going to tell all my followers to read it, too.

For a banned book, ALL BOYS AREN'T BLUE really isn't that revolutionary or extraordinary, which honestly says a lot about the people trying to remove this from shelves. Most of what the author, George M. Johnson, says makes a lot of sense. They talk a lot about their family life and not fitting in with boys or the expected gender norms of the Black and white communities. They talk about some of their early traumas and how that shaped them, whether it was being jumped at five, or watching their cousin nearly drown. They talk a lot about how integral their family's support was in shaping their identity and leading to what was, mostly, a healthy upbringing.

Apparently, this is a memoir that is largely targeted at young adults, which explains why parts felt so instructional. I am not a young adult, so I realize-- belatedly-- that I am not in the target audience for this book. Despite that, I think there is so much value in this book as a resource. All the things the author talked about regarding the shaping of his identity and not fitting in will probably be so relatable and important for other nonbinary or trans kids experiencing the same thoughts and sense of alienation. Knowing you're not alone when you're feeling lonely and out of place is seriously such a balm. He also briefly discusses sex, and how sex with someone you like can be bad sex (a valuable lesson), and a little bit about sexual abuse, and the lasting impact that that can make on someone.

I'm giving this a three star rating because it wasn't perfect and there were a few things I didn't like about it. The passage about 9/11, as other people have said, was a bit... uh, weird. They also made a choice to dead name one of their trans relatives, and while I believe this is to provide context about their family's struggle to understand and accept what being trans meant, it was a weird thing to do, especially since early on, George writes about the shock of finding out that his name wasn't really Matthew but George when he was a kid, and emphasizing the importance of calling people what they want to be called. Some of the essays also felt a little disorganized and messy. But what redeemed this book for me in the end were the great passages about their family and the overall message of staying true to yourself.

3 to 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,236 reviews26.6k followers
June 10, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
June 22, 2020
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!!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
744 reviews11.9k followers
September 20, 2022
Typically upon seeing the description of “a memoir-manifesto” in the title, I would have stayed away. I’m not big on declarations of manifestos, and I’m pretty removed from the Young Adult demographic. But then I came across a wonderful essay by one of my favorite GR reviewers on banned books, and followed his suggestion to request a banned book to make sure it stays in circulation.

This book landed a #3 spot on the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021 list by American Library Association (“Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit”). So checking it out seemed like a no-brainer.
“Nowadays, we are assigning gender even before birth. We have become socially conditioned to participate in the gendering of children at the earliest possible moment—whenever a sonogram can identify its genitalia. Gender-reveal parties have become a trendy way to celebrate the child’s fate, steering them down a life of masculine or feminine ideals before ever meeting them.”

No, I didn’t care for it at all. I thought it was remarkably self-indulgent, even for a memoir which presumes quite a hefty dose of that, and a lot of focus seemed a bit off and misplaced. Everyone’s experience is valid, sure, but someone coming from such a supportive family and quite a comfortable existence in the middle class background may come to focus on things that don’t have an impact equal to what they perceive it to be for others. Some nuances in self-awareness seemed to be lost in this narrative, with a few relatively ordinary and banal experiences stretched a bit too much to make them necessary meaningful.

It may be the influence of the titular manifesto, but there was too much preachiness and drawing conclusions from events based on quite tenuous connections, and insistence on spoonfeeding the readers all the conclusions Johnson wants us to reach. And those conclusions were strangely simplistic and shallow — and yet earnestly heavy-handed and self-indulgingly overanalyzed.

Let the readers think for themselves instead of hitting them over the head with your points; it actually works better that way.

Johnson is an engaging narrator, sure, but the problem is that there’s not enough meat in the way this story is presented to really engage me. The weak prose didn’t help either.

And yet I would not want to forcibly prevent anyone from reading this book. Seriously, there is nothing here that should ever land it a spot on the Most Challenged Books list. The author wants to bring attention to the issues at the intersection of Black and queer experience, and does exactly that. A scene of brief sexual molestation by a relative is not written to be attractive, and shows what sadly is not as uncommon of an experience as we’d like it to be. And a brief description of his two other adult sexual encounters is also nothing that should have anyone - and yes, that includes even the parents of middle grade and young adult demographic - reaching for their smelling salts. (But we all know that for some people any same-sex experience inevitably leads to a serious case of pearl-clutching, so there’s that).

It’s not a book for me, but it may be - and judging from its ratings, already has been - a good book for a different reader. So hopefully the pearl-clutchers give up and do something more productive with their lives.

1.5 stars — but let’s not take away others’ ability to access it freely from the library and form their own opinions.


Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Kevin (Irish Reader).
274 reviews3,930 followers
June 10, 2020
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
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,797 followers
June 5, 2020
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!
Profile Image for Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction).
451 reviews6,950 followers
June 11, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,124 reviews30.2k followers
October 3, 2020
Isn’t this cover stunning? I listened and read All Boys Aren’t Blue back in June. Memoirs are especially good on audio when they are narrated by the author, and in this case George M. Johnson’s voice added sincerity and so much emotion to the reading.

The book is structured in a series of essays where the author shares his childhood, teen years, as well as college. Johnson wrote his book as a tool for teens who want to be allies, as well as a strong voice for queer teens of color.

It’s honest and thought-provoking as it covers several timely and important topics. The storytelling is gorgeous and powerful, and I’m grateful Johnson shared his story and that voices and books like this are on shelves in bookstores and libraries today. We need more.

I received a gifted audio from Libro.fm and Macmillan. I also purchased a hardcopy for my shelf.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

Merged review:

Isn’t this cover stunning? I listened and read All Boys Aren’t Blue back in June. Memoirs are especially good on audio when they are narrated by the author, and in this case George M. Johnson’s voice added sincerity and so much emotion to the reading.

The book is structured in a series of essays where the author shares his childhood, teen years, as well as college. Johnson wrote his book as a tool for teens who want to be allies, as well as a strong voice for queer teens of color.

It’s honest and thought-provoking as it covers several timely and important topics. The storytelling is gorgeous and powerful, and I’m grateful Johnson shared his story and that voices and books like this are on shelves in bookstores and libraries today. We need more.

I received a gifted audio from Libro.fm and Macmillan. I also purchased a hardcopy for my shelf.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,315 followers
August 12, 2021
I’m going to try to keep this short, mostly because I don’t think I’m the person most equipped to give a full analysis of George M. Johnson’s life and memoir. But despite this book not being written for me, specifically, I believe there’s still a lot that can’t be learned from the author’s words and experiences.

“The spectrum of our traumas can be as broad as our identities.”

Johnson’s stated goal in All Boys Aren’t Blue is to offer some guidance to kids navigating an LGBTQ+ and/or black identity in America right now. He wants to be a lifeline to those that feel isolated because of who they are or how they feel; one he didn’t have access to growing up. In order to achieve this he shares memories and stories from his own life. Some are funny, others are painful, but each is 100% candid. I was impressed with how open he was in bearing his scars to the world, and I appreciated how he shared even the most intimate pieces of himself.

There’s a rawness in Johnson’s storytelling that I think will reach most people who pick up this book. I’d recommend it to not just teenagers going through something similar, but to the adults around them. Johnson has an incredibly understanding and loving family, and that’s something that I’m sure would be beneficial for a number of parents to listen and learn from.

*Audiobook (narrated by the author) is currently available for for free on Hoopla*
Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
673 reviews5,617 followers
June 13, 2020
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!
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
660 reviews3,882 followers
June 9, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Peyton Reads.
174 reviews1,937 followers
February 11, 2021
Very important read! I don’t rate memoirs because it feels odd to me but it’s great book!
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,294 reviews343 followers
May 8, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews502 followers
October 29, 2020
June 23, 2020: If you've come across my status updates, you already know how much this book has made me feel. It's such a perfect collection of personal essays. There are real stories dipping into the author's thoughts and messages. It does great justice to both the perspectives of George's identity: being Black and being gay. A definitive recommendation. Full review to come!
Profile Image for Christy.
3,814 reviews32.4k followers
February 2, 2021
4 stars

This was an intense, brave, and beautifully written memoir by George M. Johnson. His stories were powerful, and although most were unrelatable to me, I think it's an important book to read and I would recommend it to all.

Audio book source: Libby (library borrow)
Story Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: George M. Johnson
Narration Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Memoir
Length: 5 hours and 12 minutes
Profile Image for Melina Souza.
357 reviews1,858 followers
August 28, 2020
Esse livro é tão importante, tão necessário, tão emocionante...
Acabei de finalizar a leitura ouvindo o audiobook narrado pelo próprio George M. Johnson e tô sem palavras.
Profile Image for sarah.
392 reviews261 followers
April 25, 2020
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
Profile Image for Shaun Hutchinson.
Author 25 books4,636 followers
July 19, 2020
A really wonderful exploration of growing up Black and queer. I listened to the audio, and I thought the author did a really fantastic job. Hearing his story in his own words made it that much more special.
Profile Image for clem.
520 reviews372 followers
July 10, 2020

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.

Instagram | youtube

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.
Profile Image for Isabella.
558 reviews13.8k followers
July 21, 2020
At times heartbreaking, at times uplifting and hopeful, this memoir-manifesto does for young queer kids what mainstream media still doesn't do: show that they're not alone, that they're not "weird" for being different, that they have a community and that they are valid.

Beautifully written, raw and honest, this memoir was an incredible read that I will be thinking and cherishing for a long time :)
Profile Image for Sophia.
270 reviews2,036 followers
June 23, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Dwayne.
120 reviews116 followers
October 13, 2021
Given our current hyper-aware socio-political climate of activism and inclusivity, this book couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time. Touching on issues of identity and queerness, it is enlightening, well-written, heartwarming and brimming with sass. And what beautiful cover art! I enjoyed it thoroughly.
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