George M. Johnson’s memoir, All Boys Aren’t Blue, has been described as unflinching and I have to agree. Written for young adults about growing up Black and queer, Johnson’s four act memoir honestly and hopefully provides the reader with a lived experience which can be learned from and reassures that those who feel unseen, deserve joy. They deserve to live.
For readers fourteen and above, the stories, traumas and tragedies relayed by Johnson demonstrate how poorly prepared young Black men are to confront a society hellbent on carving out an identity for them. Johnson seeks to change this with his experience. He lifts up the people who were queer affirming and who loved him unconditionally, while recognising and condoning the prejudices, microagressions and systems which continue to disadvantage, harm and kill Black men, especially Black boys.
And so, although it is a stark and powerful reminder of how much of a detriment traditional views of masculinity are, this memoir is about more than this. It even goes beyond queerness. All Boys Aren’t Blue is about family, growing up, loss and grief, and most importantly love. It is about how love truly has the ability to save someone’s life when it is given freely, unconditionally and in the knowledge that we are always learning how to be better.