Title: The Black Flamingo
Author: Dean Atta
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 26, 2020
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.
Michael has always had a hard time fitting in. He doesn’t act like the other boys, who play with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and like to fight. He would rather play with Barbies and sing. He also doesn’t fit in at home, where he lives with his white mother, rather than his black father. When Michael begins university, he finds his identity as the drag queen The Black Flamingo.
This story is written in verse. This was such a great format to tell the story, since it takes place throughout Michael’s life from when he was a child to when he was a young adult. The verse format gives snapshots of important moments that affected his life. It also conveys more emotions in the short lyrical lines than it would have in prose.
There were many parts of the story that were so well written that I had to pause and read them over. Two scenes stood out to me and really made me think. When Michael was a child, he wanted a Barbie for his birthday, but he was given a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle because it is considered a “boy” toy. When his sister was a child, she was allowed to play with his ninja turtles and Barbies, and wasn’t criticized for playing with a “boy” toy the way he was when he wanted to play with a “girl” toy. Another part that stood out was when the characters were talking about what things they look for in a partner. When they talked about preferring people of certain races, a character brought up how racist that was. Race shouldn’t be a factor in finding a partner, but I have heard people say that before. I hadn’t thought of the racist implications of that, and the way it was explained in this story made so much sense.
I loved this book! I highly recommend it!
What to read next:
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Have you read The Black Flamingo? What did you think of it?