All Boys Aren’t Blue is George M. Johnson’s memoir manifesto. I’d been hearing about it since it was tragically banned in way too many US states. Well, jokes on those haters who are way too obsessed with censorship. It was picked in September for my Mocha Girls Read book club and our Cannon Book Club.
Through a series of essay chapters, we learn about George’s life from childhood to now. We learn about their identity issues that started with their name. In early childhood, the family called them Matthew. When they started elementary school, the school tried to call them George, which they never even knew was their official birth name. The school forced them to choose, so they chose George. Shortly thereafter, bullies targeted George. Thankfully, their family would protect their own. But soon George learned that queerness was deemed unacceptable. They played football to fit in and partly shield themselves from rumors. The way the essays are laid out, you really understand how flawed gender expectations are. George was excellent at jumping rope (a girl’s sport) AND football (a boy’s sport). In college, George joined a fraternity and pledged with other gay closeted members. Even though, they were told no gay men were allowed in the fraternity. It was uplifting to see how George’s close bonds formed and defied these so-called rules.
My favorite parts were the personal stories about George’s family. The grandmother sounded amazing. She always took George in and made time for them. Even when George had few friends. She saved on trips for all her grandkids. Unlike other memoirs, this is part memoir and part manifesto. They make a point to embrace who you truly are and love who feels right. Although there are some dark chapters of their life (TW: abuse), George still perseveres and finds something thoughtful to share. This is a great book for YA and adult readers because of George’s powerful writing and ultimate message of acceptance. It’s so unfortunate the book ban movement focused on this book. But it likely contributed to more exposure for the book. It’s now an NYT bestseller. I would definitely be into reading more novels from George. And very intrigued about the potential television adaption from Gabrielle Union’s production company.
Read more of my reviews on my blog, Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict.