Boys Come First by Aaron Foley
Xolo Score 4.75/5
Boys Come First follows a group of male friends navigating being Black and Queer in a gentrifying Detroit. Dominick, Troy, and Remy are at a critical turning point in their lives. Dominick has moved back to the Motor City from New York after losing his job and breaking up with his fiancée. Troy is a teacher at a school threatened with closure in favor of property developments. And Remy, Mr. Detroit, is a successful realtor conflicted about his role in his city’s gentrification. Each friend is also trying their best to figure out what they want in a romantic partner and understand the love they think they deserve.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
The prominent point of strife among the friends is how they view Detroit’s gentrification and its direct impact on their lives. As a real estate agent, Remy sells his comprehensive knowledge of Detroit neighborhoods to wealthy white developers. Remy’s goals conflict with Troy’s hyperlocal advocacy for his students and their devalued school. At the same time, Dom’s perspective of Detroit is ever-evolving after intentionally leaving the city for many years. The changing demographics of contemporary Detroit, by class but most pointedly by race, are front and center for the three. But neither knows how to cope with these changes and ultimately lean on each other for support.
Boys Come First centers on the complexities of Queer Black Male friendship. Each character’s life in Detroit is realistically messy, and the group does its best to show up for each other. Each friend has a different idea of their future, but all three want to find long-term happiness (whatever that means). They confide in each other their frustrations with dating in a rapidly gentrifying Detroit and reconcile how these changes will affect their expectations for a happy life. And like many friend groups, there is tension between the three when they come to a crossroads and think their life goals are antithetical to the others’. But in the end, local bars, jobs, money, and romantic partners may come and go, but their friendship can stand the test of time if they allow it to do so.
Boys Come First celebrates the power of Queer Black Male friendship in a rapidly gentrifying Detroit.
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To what extent are there BIPOC leading characters or perspectives?
How well does the author avoid writing BIPOC experiences through the white gaze?
To what extent does the author challenge white-centered beliefs?
How well does the book explore nuances between intersectional identities?