Review: The Black Flamingo

Title: The Black Flamingo
Author: Dean Atta
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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?

Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

5 thoughts on “Review: The Black Flamingo”

  1. I LOVED The Black Flamingo. I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Dean Atta and I found it really insightful and emotional. There were some parts that really resonated with me. In particular this bit on coming out: ‘Correct those who say they knew before you did.
    That’s not how sexuality works, it’s yours to define.’

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: