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Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!
Today’s pick is a moving memoir-manifesto by an author who walks us through his journey of finding himself, finding community, coming out, and being seen.
All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson
In the intro, the author tells us that he wants this book to be truthful and that he will be sharing some very heavy things that people don’t necessarily talk about. He went through some very hard things as a child and young adult and likewise, many young adults are going through hard things right now. That is Johnson’s point in telling things truthfully. He wishes that when he was a young adult, he had stories to turn to such as this so he’s hoping that his story can help some young people today. Yes, it’s YA, but it’s a memoir that offers multiple places for connection for a variety of readers.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I was biased, myself a Black & queer person (as is the author). So much of his story resonated with me. His family, like mine, aren’t necessarily academics when it comes to queer history but they were loving always. I couldn’t help but cry every time I read about his close relationship with his grandmother. It’s just so full of unconditional, active love. I found it extra hilarious that he didn’t learn his first name until he was around six because his family and school called him by his middle name because I have the same story.
What I love about this book is that yes, the author tells his story but it is only partly memoir. It is also a manifesto. He starts right off with telling the story of the day he was born and then leaps into how we have gender projected on us as infants or even as fetuses as well as the other societal projections and expectations which, for many people, are way off the mark. He talks about how all of this adds to the struggles of queer kids.
The author shares not only the traumas that can occur as a queer person or a Black person but at the intersection of being Black and queer. This book is such a wonderful addition to the growing collection of queer Black literature.
Content warnings for sexual assault including molestation, homophobia, racism including anti-Blackness, cancer, and death.
That’s it for now, book-lovers!
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