Why did I wait so long to read these two? This isn’t just a question of Book Club procrastination; this is a “what was I thinking?” moment! I had heard good things about both, I was enraged as ever when they (and others) showed up on lists of challenged and banned books, and they were both available on scribd! Also- why did I treat these books like homework? “oh man, I have to read these before I can move on to other things”- at the end, I was racing against the start of Book Club and NOT my desire to finish ASAP. I don’t want to say too much about these two books, as I want to go into the conversation posts ready to TALK, but I need to give both my whole-hearted endorsement!
All Boys Aren’t Blue
“my queerness came off as thespian”
George M. Johnson has a VOICE, and I am glad that they use it! If you haven’t tried this book yet, I highly recommend listening to George read their own audiobook. Described as both a memoir and a manifesto by the author themselves, this collection of essays about growing up Black and Queer must feel like a Rosetta Stone for kids who are feeling adrift, confused, and alienated within their own cultures or families- one does not need to have George’s exact life and experiences to find value and community in this collection. From first memories through the experiences of writing this very book, George holds nothing back. They dive deep into their family, their sexuality, their faith, their needs- everything. I often find myself annoyed when writers reference the act of writing the book that I am reading, but the more time I spent with George, the clearer it became that they were being transparent in everything- hopes, dreams, and process- so that any other kid seeking meaning could use this book as a handbook and guide. I’m a white, cis, queer lady, but I wish I had seen this book when I was a teenager! It speaks openly and frankly about sex in ways that are both educational and aspirational. George and I grew up around the same time (two years apart), and the sheer force of “lose your virginity OR ELSE but do not get pregnant” was the main statement made around sex- nothing about joy, pleasure, communication- or hell, even the logistics of putting what where and why. It pains me that people in our country want to keep kids hidden under blankets of shame and hate- there is so much to learn here.
Bingo Square: Adapt – a NEW adaptation hits Amazon Prime TONIGHT! It’s a dramatic reading of the book, featuring THE JENNIFER LEWIS AS NANNY!
The Hate U Give
“at an early age I learned that people make mistakes- and you have to decide if their mistakes are bigger than your love for them”
I don’t think that I have ever come across a fictional family anywhere near as “real” as the family portrayed in this novel! The love, the frustration, the dedication, the friction- these characters leapt fully-formed, Athena-style, from Angie Thomas. Again, I highly recommend checking this out (if you have not done so already) as an audio book; Bahni Turpin absolutely nails every distinct character – especially the older folks in the community! The voices- in what they said and how they said it- felt very real. I was apprehensive around picking this one up at first because I did not want to sit down for a YA-trauma-jerker; but obviously I was wrong! The sad truth is, in our current world as well as in the past, it is dangerous to exist while being Black. There’s no emotional manipulation here; terrible things happen to Starr and her friends because Starr is a Black young woman living in our current world. Starr is more than just a collection of her traumas; she is a teenager is who knows the immediate danger of police brutality and is also worried about which seat she’ll sit in while riding to school in her mom’s car. She’s testifying before a Grand Jury, but she’s dedicated to her Tumblr. She finds solace from constantly code-switching in Fresh Prince re-runs and watching her parents dance to Juvenile. This story reminded me of the sort of movies that used to play on the Disney channel when I was younger; educational pieces of recent history that were shown regularly at home and in classrooms. This is not a complaint; this book should be required reading for teens- who am I kidding, adults too.
Bingo Square: Heart – this book is stuffed full of love; familial love, romantic love, love for the community, love for oneself, and yeah…I loved it.
Now- to go dive deeper in the discussion posts! Hope to see you there!