I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.
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.
Title : The Black Flamingo
Author : Dean Atta
Format : eBook / overdrive
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Hodder Books / Balzer + Bray
Release Date : August 8, 2019 / May 26, 2020
Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 4 star review
THE BLACK FLAMINGO was a beautiful, real story told with grit. A coming of age, coming out, all while being black story. What felt unique to me about this story and different to other coming-out stories was that it started in young childhood. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t linger for ages in that age-range but it depicted Michael’s experiences from a young age and I loved that.
Michael’s blackness and the experience of having Greek/Cypriot mother and black father who deserted them was fresh and insightful reading. Michael’s own realisations about the colour of his skin alongside his sexuality were thought-provoking and poignant. Seeing Michael become his true self, cast off other people’s presumptions and eventually being drawn to drag was absorbing reading.
‘He is me, who I have been,
who I am, who I hope to become.
Someone fabulous, wild and strong,
With or without a costume on.’
The story was told in verse that was incredibly engaging. In addition, Michael was a poet and so there were poems peppered throughout the book. In particular, I loved Maybe I’m a Merman and I Wanna Be Fierce. The book was illustrated and formatted in a way that enhanced the reading process (or should have done, see my next paragraph).
I bought the ebook for this read and unfortunately there was a problem with the text formatting, nearly every single page of the 300+ pages had a problem with text doubling over itself. I went to report it on amazon but I could see that it is not currently for sale and under review; this surely means they know about the problem and it’s being fixed. Before you click the link below to the book, please check it has been resolved.
THE BLACK FLAMINGO was a quick but impactful read that was inspirational. Dean Atta has a fresh narrative voice and he is a gifted poet. I’d definitely recommend this read.
Hollis’ 4 star review
I’m not quite sure I’ve done much reading in verse, particularly not an entire story in it, and for the first half of The Black Flamingo I wasn’t sure it was really my thing. I liked it, I was enjoying the story, but I wasn’t really connecting.
That completely changed once we’d transitioned into Michael’s young adulthood as he eased out of highschool and into college. This had already been a pretty fast read (the page count initially shocked me until I remembered it was verse, I r slow) but I blazed through it after the halfway mark. I couldn’t devour this fast enough. I was completely invested in both the events and the evolution, the inner and the outer.
Beyond just loving the story so much more, though, I absolutely adored the poetry sprinkled throughout. I went back to read them more than once.
This read won’t take up much of your time but it should absolutely take priority on your TBR. Highly recommend.