Cover Image: Boys Come First

Boys Come First

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Member Reviews

I very much enjoyed my time reading this book; I thought it was entertaining and fun to read. However, it also opened my eyes to some experiences that Black (and) gay men go through often that aren’t part of my lived in experience. So I’m glad I read the book in that regard. On top of that, I’ve also learned a lot about the city of Detroit. 

I loved how flawed and real each character was; and it made me feel connected to them all in some way or another. Also their friendship dynamic felt natural and I liked reading about their conversations; they were extremely entertaining. 

I will say going into this, I was expecting it to be more of a romance, but in the end, I’m glad this focused on each man’s individual journeys and their failed relationships. We got to see different types of relationships in this, like “situation-ships” and domestic abuse (I’m not making light of this, but it does play a significant role in one character’s storyline, so I thought it was worth mentioning). 

My only technical issue with this was that, I wasn’t a fan of the perspective switches between first and third person. It did take me out of the story a bit in between POV changes. 

Overall, this was such a great book and I hope to read more from this author in the future. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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A deeply honest and wonderfully immersive book. I feel like I have walked the streets of Detroit after finishing this book, and learned more than I thought I could about the lives of three men in less than 400 pages. Foley's writing is just wonderful. Thank you to Netgalley and the published for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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The best part about this book is that it doesn't feel like a book written for white, straight people to understand gay Black men, it feels like a book unapologetically written for queer and Black readers.
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Unfortunately this book wasn't for me.
I tried quite hard to get into it but it genuinely wasn't working out for me so I've had to DNF it.
Still, thank you very much for sending me the ARC of Boys Come First and I hope that I could read it someday in the future and I'll actually be able to enjoy and finish it.
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I absolutely loved this book. It was super fun and witty. The dialogue between these group of friends is what truly makes the story. I loved how the main characters, Remy, Dominick and Troy were all on a exploration of love, happiness and plain ol' living life. I was somewhat taken aback and pleased to know that men, like women, have trouble finding and keeping a good man! So this is proof that men can be ... (you fill in the blank) and that me, as a woman, isn't crazy, as I too venture to not find, but keep that love going with a man.
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SYNOPSIS: Suddenly jobless and single after a devastating layoff and a breakup with his cheating ex, advertising copywriter Dominick Gibson flees his life in Hell's Kitchen to try and get back on track in his hometown of Detroit. He's got one objective - exit the shallow dating pool ASAP and get married by thirty-five — and the deadline's approaching fast.

Meanwhile, Dom's best friend, Troy Clements, an idealistic teacher who never left Michigan, finds himself at odds with all the men in his life: a troubled boyfriend he's desperate to hold onto, a perpetually dissatisfied father, and his other friend, Remy Patton. Remy, a rags-to-riches real estate agent known as "Mr. Detroit," has his own problems - namely choosing between making it work with a long-distance lover or settling for a local Mr. Right Now who's not quite Mr. Right. And when a high-stakes real estate deal threatens to blow up his friendship with Troy, the three men have to figure out how to navigate the pitfalls of friendship and a city that seems to be changing overnight.

Full of unforgettable characters, Boys Come First is about the trials and tribulations of real friendship, but also about the highlights and hiccups -late nights at the wine bar, awkward Grindr hookups, workplace microaggressions, situationships, frenemies, family drama, and of course, the group chat — that define Black, gay, millennial life in today's Detroit.
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really fun book! loved the characters, I'm so happy i discovered this author! it was heartwarming and sweet. thank you for the arc.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this book to review.  The book was okay for me. It was funny but it just didn't have a strong story line.  Not really a book for me
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Boys Come First centers around three Black gay friends living in Detroit. Foley writes a solid image of the city and their history with it, as well as the unique intersectionality of the main characters' identities and how they navigate those together. I'm usually a fan of character-driven novels, but this time I really just wanted a stronger plot to last through the whole story, even though I did enjoy following their friendship, relationships, and lives. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!
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I stumbled across this one as a ‘Read Now’ on Netgalley and what a little gem I found! This is Foley’s debut novel which was funny, poignant and thought-provoking. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the main characters are three gay black men and that in itself was a joy and delight.

Boys Come First is about being gay in America. Being black in America. Being a gay black man in America. It’s about friendship, family, growth, how we cope during struggles, what it’s like to watch the city you love and call home change (for better or worse). It’s about the compromises we make for our work, our family and our friends, even if that means diminishing ourselves or ignoring our values. It’s also about losing yourself in a relationship in a variety of different ways.

As I write this review I’m realising just how much Foley was able to pack in there for our three main characters. And, whilst we’re talking characters, Detroit is its own character. Foley dives into the history of the city, its present and future, what that means for the residents that have been there for generations. He beautiful describes the landscape, bars and clubs and restaurants till you feel that Detroit is all around you. 

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever Foley does next because I really really enjoyed getting to spend time with Dominik, Remy and Troy. I also love it when a book allows me to spend time in a culture and city I’m not familiar with and Boys Come First like me peak into Detroit and its community.
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I haven't read anything like this before. A deeply personal story about 3 best friends, all gay Black men in their 30s, Foley explores mental health, toxic masculinity, and colorism within a community whose stories are rarely told. While moments were difficult to follow and characters were sometimes easy to mix up, Foley tells a poignant story. Dominick moves back to his home city after being dumped and fired the same day. Troy, a school teacher in an abusive relationship, tries to protect his people from gentrification. And Remy is a locally famous relator who has to grapple with his personal success and opportunities with protecting Black Detroit. All 3 of them experience intense hardships and yet their love for one another is beautiful. Foley's writing is funny and playful and accessible, while the story he is telling is real and representative. This is honestly a must read, providing an insight into a particular community that, unless you are a part of you, you probably know nothing about.
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this book is about the struggles of a group of thirty something black men dealing with racism, work dating, homophobia and racism in detroit. i liked how the book brought detroit to life as the characters navigated issues if gentrification and loss of Black culture in the city. the pacing was off at times and i didnt feel connected to the characters. the POV's sometimes became confusing also. i feel the characters were lovable and i was rooting for them but sometimes things came off cringy. overall, it was an okay book and loved some of the issues that was tackled but it wasnt a fav of mine
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Honestly maybe its because of the book cover, but the whole time I was reading this it felt like I was watching a heartwarming slice-of-life anime show where every couple chapters was an episode. Definitely made it more enjoyable when imagined that way.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Belt Publishing for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Although the book had well developed characters and a good story of three gay men and their lives it didn't have that much of a plot. But I never expected that from an entertaining book with people who laughed, loved and lived their live in Detroit. A good read
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Representation: Black queer MCs, several supporting queer MCs, majority BIPOC supporting cast.

Three Black queer men grew up in Detroit and each have their own relationship with the city. Dominick left for lucrative advertising work in NYC, but after a sudden layoff from the start up he invested so much in and a bad breakup with his cheating ex, he moves back to figure out his next step. He does *not* want to still be single and unmarried by 35, but that’s quickly approaching. Troy, Dom’s best friend, has never left Michigan because he loves teaching the kids there, and he may be a little idealistic, really believing his school will always do what’s best for the kids. He’s struggling to hold onto his boyfriend who has his own struggles, has conflict with his dad who’s never happy with him and what he’s done. Then there’s Remy, a good friend who is a real estate agent who had a meteoric rise from nothing to rich and well-known. Remy is trying to decide between trying to make it work with a long-distance lover who’s constantly traveling, or a local man who’s not quite Mr. Right. He also has a high-stakes deal that could cause serious problems in his friendship with Troy. The three men are navigating friendship, love, while also dealing with life as Black queer men in a city that’s rapidly changing.

Rating: 4.5/5 I just love how unapologetically Black this story is, and it allows the characters to be imperfect while not putting them down. It also touches on the different experiences Black people can have, from extremely successful as a real estate agent, to moderately as a teacher but with limited ability. And even how their experiences of being queer is different. Remy mostly keeps his queerness very separate from being an agent, because it’ll impact his ability to make contracts and deals. From what I recall, Troy mostly keeps it separate from his teaching because schools can be not so great about teachers being openly queer. Dom isn’t loud about it, but he’s not hush-hush about it either. I enjoyed the dynamics between the three of them, and seeing them work through things together. A couple of minor things that I didn’t particularly like. This book’s chapters are broken up into the perspectives of the three men. Dom and Troy are written in third, and Remy is written in first, which was an interesting choice, and a little unusual for me. It sometimes took me out briefly, but that’s a very minor thing. There are some sections where it feels a little dragging on, but it doesn’t last long so it wasn’t too much of an issue for me. The three men can sometimes seem very similar and it can sometimes take a second to figure out who’s speaking between Dom and Troy. This isn’t a problem for me, but it might be for others. But honestly, the book was really well-written for the most part, and all of that was enough for me to ignore the minor issues. I really enjoyed reading this.
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"You wonder where he is, Troy thought to himself. And then you wonder how, exactly, you got to where you are now. And then, maybe, you begin to find your way out."

Frederick Smith wrote, 'Imagine the thirtysomething angst of Insecure meeting the queer Black friendships of Noah's Arc, intersecting with the dating dilemmas of Waiting to Exhale, all rolled up into the dynamics of a gentrified Detroit and you've got Boys Come First.' A damn near-perfect description of one of the most raw and honest books I've read in a long time. 

In Aaron Foley's BOYS COME FIRST, we meet thirtysomething best friends going through the most: Dominick is forced to go back home after catching his boyfriend in bed with someone else on the day when he's laid off at work, Remy, a focused real estate mogul on the rise dealing with two men who won't commit, and Troy, a teacher with major daddy issues and a bummy boyfriend who's a lot to deal with. 

If there was ever a book I'd love to see adapted for the screen, this is it. The book invites us to experience the Black queer adult life in it messy and complicated fullness, alternating between perspectives of these best friends - with Remy being the only one being told in first person (something the author said was deliberate since it proves just how complex a character he was). At the core of this friendship, we see Dom, Remy and Troy navigating life as a thirty-something gay man who's had dreams about where they would be at this point in their lives, romantic and sexual endeavours with Grindr in its messy glory making a cameo every now and then, and the drama that comes with unattainable goals in a language that it raw, honest and unapologetically witty, you'd gobble this up in one sitting. 

Another great thing to note is how the book introduces the setting and location to us, you feel yourself drawn and a part of Detroit, almost seeing it vividly through the eyes of the characters and how the author sees it. It is a love letter to the city, and an admonishing of the culture of gentrification that is shown to be gradually taking over and erasing most of the culture and history embedded in this beautyful city. It is also why I feel like vvhite people will not be pleased by this book and how it shows them as the grabby opportunistic bunch they are - but I understand. They should be displeased, and maybe they should choose not to read this book if they are of the minds that they need to be something to resonate with it because like gentrification, some things shouldn't be taken and repackaged to fit those who do not fit. Some things should just be ours. 

TW include mentions of PTSD, trauma and mild suicidal ideation, intimate partner abuse, and drug use. 

In all it's portrayal of most Black queer friendships and the decisions we make on the journey to discovering and finding ourselves; the book is, in essence, a damn tight hug and a reassurance that you need not rush to get somewhere. You'll get there eventually, and even better if you have strong loving friends with you on your way there.
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DNF. I was excited to read a book centered on lives that are different from mine, but this felt way too graphic for what I was hoping for. I read a lot of queer romance centered on cis women & nonbinary people, and none have been this graphic. It almost felt like I was violating a space not meant for me.
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This is an incredible read, for Michigan fans, millennials, and gays everywhere. This book is for Zayn specifically, who I don’t think reads this blog, because he has a Life. Featuring: a group chat done well in a book! Detroit! Black gays over the age of 30! The changing landscape of Michigan and Detroit and growing and changing in our time! M i c h i g a n, everywhere. Five stars.
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this was a very fun book full of black queer representation which I loved! this really hit home and I loved the how raw this story is. I couldn't stop laughing throughout this. overall this was a book I finished pretty quickly and made for an enjoyable time.
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This had me laughing from the first line, and I didn't stop loving it the whole time! This book was so real, and I loved seeing experiences similar to me and my friends reflected on the page. I will say that I wished that the chapter headings included which narrator the chapter was about, though.
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