THE PLOT: ‘The Black Flamingo’ by Dean Atta is a young adult verse novel about a mixed-race boy’s journey to becoming a drag queen. Michael has felt different since he was a young boy. From playing with barbies to being half-Cypriot and half-Jamaican, he doesn’t know where he fits in. In secondary school, he begins to navigate his sexual and cultural identity. But, when he discovers drag at university, he finally feels like he’s found a real home. Privately, he constructs a persona as The Black Flamingo but will he be brave enough to go on stage and step into the spotlight.
RATING: This is one of the most unique and creative novels I’ve ever read so I have to give it five stars. Told in verse, it’s filled with beautiful illustrations and poems yet still manages to convey a clear narrative arc and loveable characters. It eloquently tells the story of a boy finding himself within the binary structures of straight or gay, boy or girl, Black or white. With true authenticity and heart, I cannot recommend it enough.
GOOD BITS: This book is a beautiful representation of what it means to be both queer and mixed-race. It’s very rare to have a YA novel where the protagonist goes from age 6 to 18, but it pulls it off effortlessly as it’s well-structured and we get a clear understanding of Michael’s life journey and how he becomes The Black Flamingo. This book is also inspiring in so many ways. It manages to give advice about being queer and drag to readers without being preachy and its creative form has inspired me to express myself in art and to be true to my vision.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: N/A – this novel is perfectly what it’s meant to be and I can’t critique a thing.
OVERALL: I’d recommend this book to lovers of ‘The Poet X’ and ‘Clap When You Land’ by Elizabeth Acevedo, and ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ by George M. Johnson. I’m so glad that I picked up this book for Pride Month. It’s reminded me of why I love YA and I will be championing this book all year round.