This powerful YA memoir-manifesto follows journalist and LGBTQ+ activist George M. Johnson as they explore their childhood, adolescence, and college years, growing up under the duality of being black and queer.
From memories of getting their teeth kicked out by bullies at age five to their loving relationship with their grandmother, to their first sexual experience, the stories wrestle with triumph and tragedy and cover topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, inequality, consent, and Black joy.
Thank you to Penguin for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is not something I would usually pick up, but I’m really glad I did. This is a memoir targeted at teens about George M Johnson’s life, from beginning to present day. I really enjoyed how this was chronological but also sectioned into topics such as friends, family, relationships etc. Every section included a very hard-hitting experience that happened to George, which felt very well written.
The best word I can think of to describe this book is ‘honest’. As soon as I picked this up I could sense that there was just no filter to be had, which was really important to me. George doesn’t shy away from any topics because, as stated in their author letter at the start of the book, if they went through these experiences at such a young age, there is no saying other teens won’t have as well. And those teens will benefit from knowing they are not alone.
This was highly readable but also covered some very heavy discussions, approaching them in a very forthright manner. Although I am definitely not the target audience (I imagine those who will relate strongly to this book are Black, queer teens), I felt like I learned a lot about the experiences George has already been through in the first 33 years of their life. The writing has a very no-filter attitude, which I really appreciated and stood out in this kind of genre. It explored so many important topics, including suppressing who you are even when you have a supportive family, growing up and learning more about your sexuality and gender identity, and being Black and queer. I will definitely be recommending this one as it felt like such an important book and a must-read!
I struggle to ‘rate’ non-fiction, especially when it comes to a personal recollection of somebody’s life, but I thought this was brilliantly written and loved the honesty. Even though this was not quite geared towards me, it honestly feels like the kind of book everyone would benefit from reading, but especially gender nonconforming folx. This is the kind of book that will save and change lives, and I hope is read and appreciated by many.
5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽