cover image We Are Not Broken

We Are Not Broken

George M. Johnson. Little, Brown, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7595-5460-3

In a heartwarming and sapient memoir exploring Black boyhood, womanhood, and joy, Johnson (All Boys Aren’t Blue) introduces young readers to their maternal grandmother, who “didn’t take no shit,” and the New Jersey childhood and adolescence that they, their brother, and their cousins spent under her care. Beginning each anecdotal chapter with a “Nannyism”—bits of the matriarch’s wisdom, including “a lie ain’t a side of the story. It’s a lie”—Johnson examines their youth through appreciative and critical lenses. The narrative spans their relationship with their brother and cousins, early experiences with racial discrimination, coming to terms with their queerness, and the death of their grandmother. Interweaved are letters from the cousins to Nanny, detailing her dedication to making sure they had each other as well as the tools to navigate “living in a society that sees you as disposable.” An intensely emotional, stunning read, Johnson’s memoir memorializes the legacy of their grandmother—and all of the Black grandmothers who have built the foundations necessary to ensure that their families would not only survive but flourish. Ages 14–up. Agent: Patrice Caldwell, New Leaf Literary. (Sept.)