All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that All Boys Aren't Blue is a frank memoir about how the author came to understand their identity, especially in areas where being both Black and queer intersect and separate. It's frequently challenged and has been censored or banned in numerous states. There are specific descriptions of consensual sex and a sexual assault that aren't erotic. The author explains that they're meant to give marginalized teens information, expectations, and representation of themselves. A couple of violent incidents against the author are also specific but not gory, but blood is mentioned. Teens in college drink, party, and smoke marijuana. Strong language includes "s--t" and "d--k." An introduction explains the contexts and uses of "f-g," "f--got," "nigga," and the "N" word.
An important read for queer teens and allies
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What's the Story?
ALL BOYS AREN'T BLUE is a look back on the author's life growing up Black and queer in Plainsfield, New Jersey. It's structured like a series of essays and letters that explore events and people that affected their life and understanding of their identity. In chronological-age order, each chapter explores an incident or how they saw themself at the time, contributing factors, and how now that they're in their 30s they understand the past and how it affects the present.
Is It Any Good?
Author George M. Johnson's memoir is brave, honest, moving, and sometimes even funny. All Boys Aren't Blue takes on a lot of tough, scary topics, and Johnson approaches them frankly. His perspective looking back on his life now is always infused with a sense of love, both of family and of the young readers like himself that he hopes to help.
His calls for change, education, and equality are also strong, with historical context and emphasis on the need for marginalized teens to learn from others like themselves, and to see themselves as whole, full members of society. Some of the emphasis comes from being almost too repetitive, but it's a minor flaw that's eventually overcome. Despite the controversy that mostly surrounds the sexual content, reading Johnson's story will help marginalized teens realize they're not alone, and will foster empathy and understanding from readers of any background.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the sex in All Boys Aren't Blue. Why is it included? How does the author describe it, and how does that affect you as the reader?
Do you agree with the author that it's important for teens, especially marginalized teens, to have access to frank information, and to see themselves reflected in the media? Or does it go too far? Should it be banned? Why, or why not?
The author says several times that the world isn't safe for queer people, especially queer people of color. What was your reaction to the violent incidents they mention, especially those against themself?
- Author: George M. Johnson
- Genre: Autobiography
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, History
- Character Strengths: Communication, Empathy, Perseverance
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date: April 28, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 22, 2022
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For kids who love LGBTQ+ stories
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