The Black Flamingo

The Black Flamingo

Fiercely told, this is a timely coming-of-age story, told in verse about the journey to self-acceptance. Perfect for fans of Sarah Crossan, Poet X and Orangeboy.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...

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Title:The Black Flamingo
Author:Dean Atta
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Black Flamingo Reviews

  • Kai

    who else did not know they needed this drag queen origin story??

    I first saw Dean Atta talk and read at a poetry event in Berlin. I had previously read his poem "How to come out as gay" in the queer anthology

    (that you should definitely read cause it's perfect and super gay) and couldn't believe my luck when I found out that I would be able to see him perform live. The reading was fascinating and Dean's poetry touched me deeply. He has a way of stringing words together that just made me wan

    who else did not know they needed this drag queen origin story??

    I first saw Dean Atta talk and read at a poetry event in Berlin. I had previously read his poem "How to come out as gay" in the queer anthology

    (that you should definitely read cause it's perfect and super gay) and couldn't believe my luck when I found out that I would be able to see him perform live. The reading was fascinating and Dean's poetry touched me deeply. He has a way of stringing words together that just made me want to keep listening forever.

    is a YA novel written in verse. It tells the story of Michael, a half Jamaican, half Greek-Cyprian boy growing up in the UK. From an early age, he is more interested in barbies and singing than is usually deemed acceptable by a society that strives on toxic masculinity, but his mother takes him as he is. As he gets older, Michael tries to find out who he is and where he fits in but he struggles - mainly because he is gay and mixed-raced. Only at university, when he discovers the Drag Society, he finally feels seen, confident, and fierce. But between his childhood and his first drag performance on stage, he will go through heartbreak, dream of fame and cute boys, make and lose friends, and experience the bittersweet and exciting years of growing up.

    The book is a celebration of youth and love, but most of all of blackness and queerness. It is a beautiful, light read that touches on quiet truths and deep emotions. Once or twice I got a bit teary and had goosebumps. Here is one short poem that I particularly liked, just to give you an example of what to expect:

  • Lisa

    "Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour."

    And this verse novel does all of that and more. Beautiful, bold and brilliant.

  • Leo

    I’m on the train and I’m crying. This is one of those books that needs to be read. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, mixed, white, queer or straight.

    Read this book.

    RtC.

  • Elizabeth Beverley

    Brilliant coming of age novel about exploring identity and sexuality from Dean Atta.

    Told in verse, 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.

  • Dean_o

    THIS BOOK DESERVES ALL THE STARS!!

    I honestly picked this one up last minute at YALC. I had met Dean Atta the day before and was immediately in love.

    However, I have never really been into poetry.

    I always felt like they were a bunch of pretty words put together to maybe rhyme but most of all sound good.

    "The Black Flamingo" is the first time that I could ever really connect with a piece of poetry, a novel written in verse.

    Now I have to say that I'm neither black nor a cis-man. I will never 100% kno

    THIS BOOK DESERVES ALL THE STARS!!

    I honestly picked this one up last minute at YALC. I had met Dean Atta the day before and was immediately in love.

    However, I have never really been into poetry.

    I always felt like they were a bunch of pretty words put together to maybe rhyme but most of all sound good.

    "The Black Flamingo" is the first time that I could ever really connect with a piece of poetry, a novel written in verse.

    Now I have to say that I'm neither black nor a cis-man. I will never 100% know how it is to be either of those things. But literature like this helps so much in understanding people of a different background.

    Most importantly what this book did for me was to realize that we're all not that different.

    The character in this book experienced a lot of things that I always thought exclusive to my trans experience. I thought I was having these thoughts because I'm trans. Turns out that's not true! Some of those thoughts are there because I'm gay, some of them because I'm a guy and some of them don't even need a source to be valid.

    So thank you to the lovely lady at the Waterstones stand at YALC who so enthusiastically recommended this book to me especially after she found out that I'm also called Dean.

    This is one that I will reread and cherish forever.

  • Alfie Rowland

    I was unfamiliar with Dean Atta’s work until I read Stripes’ Proud anthology earlier in the year and his contribution of ‘How To Come Out As Gay‘ was absolute standout for me. It’s probably one of the only poems that has ever spoken to me and made me cry (I’m not poetically cultured). When I saw that he was bringing out a full length novel told in verse I knew I had to have it – thank you to my friend Bella who gave me her early copy.

    The Black Flamingo follows Michael a half Greek-Cypriot, half

    I was unfamiliar with Dean Atta’s work until I read Stripes’ Proud anthology earlier in the year and his contribution of ‘How To Come Out As Gay‘ was absolute standout for me. It’s probably one of the only poems that has ever spoken to me and made me cry (I’m not poetically cultured). When I saw that he was bringing out a full length novel told in verse I knew I had to have it – thank you to my friend Bella who gave me her early copy.

    The Black Flamingo follows Michael a half Greek-Cypriot, half Jamaican boy growing up in London. The story starts when Michael is six and starts to realise that he isn’t the same as other boys his age and would much rather be given Barbies for his birthday than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His white-passing single mum loves him for who he is but knows she must shelter him from the harsh realities that face can face a person of colour, especially one who enjoys things out of the norm like playing mums and dads with his male friends or going to singing classes.

    As Michael grows he starts to realise that maybe he just doesn’t fit in at all. Too black for white people, too white for black people, too black to be a Greek-Cypriot and so on. He starts to close himself off from other people his age, leading to him only having one true friend and becoming the target of bullying in a school that venerates playing sports and fighting. We follow Michael right up to being nineteen has he goes on a journey to discover his true self which may or may not involve finding his wings and transforming into a drag queen known as The Black Flamingo.

    This story was absolutely raw and written right from the author’s own experiences, everything that Michael went through was completely believable. I loved Michael, even when he was being Mikey to his family, Mike to his university friends or Michaelis to his Cypriot family because he always stayed true to himself. A lot of books featuring gay character go through a phase or section where they try to ignore their gay side or try to be straight but Michael knew he was gay and was not ashamed. Michael’s difficulties lay in the fact that he fell into too many minority groups to belong to even just one of them. This is what kept me really rooting for him the whole way through.

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  • Megan Ashcroft

    Definitely recommend, a beautiful story about identity and self-discovery!

  • Kate (GirlReading)

    This is without a doubt one of the most beautifully portrayed coming of age stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It delves into the nuances of self discovery, acceptance, expression and identity in such an endearing and accessible way. I was truly captivated, so much so that I devoured this in one sitting, unable and unwilling to put it down.

    TW: racism, homophobia, homophobic slurs.

  • Acqua

    For me, it's always a breath of fresh air to read about marginalized characters who are not from the US. Yes, Michael is British, and it's not difficult to find stories set in England, but

    . In this story, you'll see Michael come to terms with

    ; to be

    For me, it's always a breath of fresh air to read about marginalized characters who are not from the US. Yes, Michael is British, and it's not difficult to find stories set in England, but

    . In this story, you'll see Michael come to terms with

    ; to be all of these things and also a gay man, one who wants to be a drag artist.

    It's a really emotional journey, one

    . The poems in here were so beautiful, especially the ones about biracial and multicultural identity not being made of halves, about best friends being the ones who can hurt you the most with their internalized homophobia and racism (

    . That hurt so much), about toxic masculinity, and the final one about coming out.

    I also thought that the way

    - Michael's somewhat complicated relationship with his mother, who accepts him but still messes up; Michael's nonexistent relationship with his father; his connection with his uncle and grandmother on his father's side -

    was something that isn't as common as it should be in YA. Daisy's (his best friend) storyline was probably my favorite part of the book.

    I also really liked the flamingo symbolism, and all the illustrations.

  • ashortbooklover

    Real rating 4.5 stars

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