Review: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

You know there are some books out there that you read and become immediately grateful that they are out there in the world? This is one of those books.

The Black Flamingo talks about so much and doesn’t shy away from any difficult topics. It is a beautiful illustrated verse book and the paperback itself was an utter gem to hold and read. It is told from the point of view of a Jamaican and Greek-Cypriot Black teen and is a journey of his life through his childhood and teen years. From the off, there are so many important topics discussed in this book. There is everything from a young boy wanting a Barbie doll for Christmas, to a teen in a new city discovering the Drag Society at his university.

There is discussions of race, gender, sexuality, family, friendships and relationships. There is fun scenes and bold scenes and sad scenes. This book really does have it all, and I want to put it into the hands of so many readers, because this will do one of two things for everyone out there – it will either

  1. Provide a diverse and educational story that covers many important topics
  2. Change somebody’s life because they finally see themselves among the pages of a book

It makes me feel so hopeful to know that books such as these are being published and put into the hands of young teens.

“You are a full human being. It’s never as simple as being half and half.”

This book is a wonderful celebration of being Black, being queer and doing Drag. It felt so reminiscent of Boy Queen for me in the aspect of it covering Drag, which I loved. It has a wonderful cast of characters and lyrical writing that felt perfect for this story. A year ago, I would not have drifted towards a verse book. But now I have read a few books told in verse form and adored them all. It just felt so right for this story and I felt so immersed in the story because of the way it was told.

The only regret I have is that I didn’t listen to the audiobook, which I’m hoping to be able to do at some point soon, especially after hearing that the author is also the narrator! I just know this book will translate amazingly to audio, and I’m so eager to hear it.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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