Book Review | The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Author : Dean Atta
Published on : May 26, 2020
First published on : August 8, 2019

Publisher : Balzer + Bray
Genre : Fiction, YA Contemporary, Poetry, LGBTQIA+
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A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

“It doesn’t matter what age you come out.
Be a beautiful thing.
Be the moonlight, too.
Remember you have the right to be proud.
Remember you have the right to be you.”

One of my favorites from PROUD (an anthology of short stories and poetry by queer authors) was “How To Come Out As Gay” by Dean Atta and I was so happy to have read it again in this book.

The Black Flamingo is written in verse and it’s so beautiful! We follow the story of Michael, a biracial main character (half Jamaican, half Greek-Cypriot) who lives in the UK. He is six when he starts to realize that he is different from other boys around him. Growing up, Michael struggles finding his identity. Not to mention that he’s also dealing with racism and bullying. He then discovers the Drag Society when he goes to college. It is overwhelming for him but it also helps him to understand more about himself and be more confident and proud of who he is.

I liked that his family and friends accept his identity and are very supportive despite of their imperfections. I really loved the writing and eventhough sometimes it felt like there were some missing parts in the story, I still appreciated the important messages that will resonate with the readers. I really enjoyed the drag performance and I wished there were more but I also get why the author didn’t add more after the first one. Michael’s first drag was important to him and it’s definitely one of the highlights in this book. It’s unforgettable for Michael and for the readers as well.

I’ll definitely get a physical copy since I read that there are lovely illustrations in this book. One of the cons of listening to the audio. But I still recommend the audiobook because it’s narrated by the author and he did really amazing.

This was a light and enjoyable read but also deep and important. This book celebrates life, especially queer POC and BIPOC lives! Highly recommended especially if you love Elizabeth Acevedo!

My Rating : ★★★★☆

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