Review: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo: Atta, Dean: 9780062990297: Books - Amazon.caTitle: The Black Flamingo
Author: Dean Atta
Publisher: Balzer + Brary
Release Date:
May 26, 2020
Page Length: 416
Genre: Contemporary, Verse
Age Range: YA
CAWPILE Rating: 9.14/10
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.

GoodreadsAmazonChapter| Indigo – Book Depository

My Thoughts

Content Warning: Racism, homophobia, internalized lesbophobia, drug use, drinking, bullying

OMG this book!  I loved it so much that I had to put off writing this post so I could, maybe, produce coherent thoughts.  This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  I picked it up thinking it would be a fun book about Drag Queens written in verse – well that’s only a tiny part of this book. 

This book, written in verse, follows Michael, who is Jamaican-Greek-Cyprian living in the UK.  We get to grow and learn as Michael does.  We start out when he is very young and the book ends with him in university.   The transformation and growth we see from not only Michael but other characters is so beautiful.  There was content in here that I hadn’t expected, but it brought new perspective – like exploring your own identity and how it affects you, how others see you based on how you present yourself. 

Really, this book is too beautiful for words.  What has stuck with me the most was when his mother told him that he wasn’t half anything.  I don’t know why that spoke to me so much, but I truly loved it.  The idea that we aren’t made up of little pieces put together but a whole person – it was just perfect.  When his friend talked about how it was racist to say that you’re only into the person of opposite race, just different steams, it was something I never really thought about, but once said made total sense.  

Experiencing Michael’s life while exploring his sexuality and racial identity was so eye opening for me – being a white woman who would never experience it.  The emotions that Dean was able to portray in such little words was just impressive.  I felt more from this verse book than I have in many prose books.  

Although I am clearly not able to fully articulate the emotions or impact this book had on me, I full heartily recommend this book to EVERYONE!  I am so glad I read this book and I will be surprised it if doesn’t end up on my top 10 at the end of the year.

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