All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto  

All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto

George M. Johnson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020

Plot Summary

From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, 
All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson's emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.


  • School Library Journal (1 May 2020) Gr 9 Up—"Journalist and activist Johnson takes readers through his life from childhood through young adulthood, reflecting on how his identity as a queer Black boy was shaped, refracted, and often suppressed for his own safety.”


  • Kirkus Reviews (2 February 2020) Young Adult “These stories wrestle with "joy and pain...triumph and tragedy" across many heavy topics—gender policing, sexual abuse, institutional violence—but with a view to freedom on the horizon. Through the witnessing of Johnson's intimate accounts, beginning with his middle-class New Jersey childhood and continuing through his attendance at a historically black university in Virginia, readers are invited on their own paths to healing, self-care, and living one's truth.”


  • Booklist (1 March 2020) Gr. 9–12 “With this title, Johnson offers his memoir-manifesto of growing up queer before he had the language to know exactly what that meant. Split into three parts, Johnson’s book shares intimate stories of his childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood as he navigates family, friends, and the performance of masculinity.”


Windy City Times (22 July 2020) “Johnson is a well-regarded activist and writer, and while he keeps this memoir focused on family matters and his own coming of age, his social critiques are razor sharp. He eviscerates the feel-good campaign meant to inspire LGBTQ youth, "It Gets Better," with a withering observation. Calling the campaign "a fable," Johnson points out that the campaign doesn't explain how to make lives better.”





New York Times Best Seller, 2020


Rainbow List: 2021

CPL Best of the Best Books 2020

People Magazine Best Book of the Summer, 2020


Response to challenges

My Book Has Been Banned Across the US. Now I'm Fighting Even Harder to Tell Black Queer Stories. (2022, April 11) “I began offering tips to those who supported our books,

as well as assisting librarians, teachers, and students with how to fight back against these bans. From petitions, to going to school board meetings, to sharing their personal stories of how these books have helped them, we have been able to shift the narrative back to why these stories are necessary.”

I'm With The Banned: All Boys Aren't Blue (2022, June 24) “Many of these youths would be able to speak up if only they had a model for doing so. Depriving them of solidarity will only make them more vulnerable to their abusers, and more vulnerable to a lifetime of poor coping skills and shame as their pain pushes them deeper into isolation.”

Superintendent’s Decision: ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ Banned for Now, Other Books Return to Library Shelves (2021, December 7) “Even the committee had recommended that the book be withheld pending the establishment of an “opt-out” procedure that would give parents the opportunity to stop their child from accessing the book, if they so chose.”


Reference list

All Boys Aren't Blue. (2020 March 1). Booklist. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto. (2020, January 23). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto. (2020 May 1). School Library Journal. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from

Best Teen Nonfiction of 2020 (2020). Chicago Public Library. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from 19_best_teen_nonfiction_of_2020?_ga=2.48238882.585496509.1657555862-13915811

43.1657555862&_gl=1*i6pcso*_ga*MTM5MTU4MTE0My4xNjU3NTU1ODYy*_ga_11XN MTZ0HG*MTY1NzU1NTg2Mi4xLjEuMTY1NzU1NTg5My4w

C. Matthew. (2022, June 24). I'm With The Banned: All Boys Aren't Blue. Richland Library.

FlaglerLive. (2021, December 7). Superintendent’s Decision: ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ Banned for Now, Other Books Return to Library Shelves. FlaglerLive.

Johnson, George M. (2022, April 11). My Book Has Been Banned Across the US. Now I'm Fighting Even Harder to Tell Black Queer Stories. Global Citizen. ans/

King, Mark, S. (2020, July 22). VIEWPOINTS 'All Boys Aren't Blue' is the audacious memoir of a Black queer man. Windy City Times. s-memoir-of-a-Black-queer-man/68937.html?scrlybrkr=85718bc9

People. (2020). People Magazine's 20 Best Books to Read This Summer. Books-a-million. mmer

Rainbow List: 2021 (2021). Booklist. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from

YALSA. (2021). Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults. ALA American Library Association.

YALSA. (2021). Teens' Top Ten. ALA American Library Association.


Book Resume created by Virginia Library Association and PDSAL