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The Black Flamingo

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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.

360 pages, Hardcover

First published August 8, 2019

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About the author

Dean Atta

19 books672 followers
Dean was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize for his debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger. His poems have been anthologised by Bad Betty Press, Emma Press, Stripes Publishing, Team Angelica and have appeared on BBC One, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4. Dean was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. He regularly performs across the UK and internationally. Dean is a member of Keats House Poets Forum and Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. He has a Philosophy and English BA from the University of Sussex and a Writer/Teacher MA from Goldsmiths, University of London. Dean is a Tutor for Arvon and Poetry School and a Writer in Residence for First Story. His debut novel, The Black Flamingo, will be published in August 2019 by Hodder Children’s Books.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,680 reviews
Profile Image for chloe.
240 reviews28k followers
June 21, 2020
“your ignorance may be innocent, but the racism is real”

wow... just wow. READ THIS BOOK. it's incredible and 100% one of my favourite books of the year.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 5 books13.5k followers
December 2, 2020
who else did not know they needed this drag queen origin story??

I first saw Dean Atta talk and read at a poetry event in Berlin. I had previously read his poem "How to come out as gay" in the queer anthology Proud (that you should definitely read cause it's perfect and super gay) and couldn't believe my luck when I found out that I would be able to see him perform live. The reading was fascinating and Dean's poetry touched me deeply. He has a way of stringing words together that just made me want to keep listening forever.

The Black Flamingo is a YA novel written in verse. It tells the story of Michael, a half Jamaican, half Greek-Cyprian boy growing up in the UK. From an early age, he is more interested in barbies and singing than is usually deemed acceptable by a society that strives on toxic masculinity, but his mother takes him as he is. As he gets older, Michael tries to find out who he is and where he fits in but he struggles - mainly because he is gay and mixed-race. Only at university, when he discovers the Drag Society, he finally feels seen, confident, and fierce. But between his childhood and his first drag performance on stage, he will go through heartbreak, dream of fame and cute boys, make and lose friends, and experience the bittersweet and exciting years of growing up.

The book is a celebration of youth and love, but most of all of blackness and queerness. It is a beautiful, light read that touches on quiet truths and deep emotions. Once or twice I got a bit teary and had goosebumps. Here is one short poem that I particularly liked, just to give you an example of what to expect:

Men are sandcastles made out of pebbles
and the bucket is patriarchy: if you remove it
we fear we won't be able to hold ourselves
together, we pour cement to fill the gaps
to make ourselves concrete constructions.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,469 reviews9,349 followers
September 26, 2022
Oh, wow, my heart is so full. Dean Atta, this is exceptional; a work of art. Thank you for writing.


The Black Flamingo is a novel written in verse. My first. Going in, I was concerned.

I wanted to read it because of the subject matter, but I just wasn't sure if the format would work for me.

My experience with poetry, of any sort, is limited, and those experiences I have had, were not great. My mind just generally doesn't work that way.

Maybe I'm too literal, but I tend to have a hard time deciphering the meaning and become easily frustrated.

I decided to try the audiobook because it is read by the author, Dean Atta, who happens to be a well-known poet. I figured, who better to hear the words from, in the way he wants them to be heard.

Upon conclusion, I know that was the correct decision for me. I definitely recommend the audiobook for other readers who may be apprehensive about a novel written in verse.

It literally feels like you are sitting down to coffee with a new friend and learning about their life.

This story follows Michael, a mixed race, gay boy growing up in the UK. The narrative follows him from the very beginning, up through his time at University; although the bulk of it does take place during his teen years.

He goes in depth into his thoughts and feelings surrounding his family, his heritage of being part-Greek Cypriot and part-Jamaican, his heartache over his absentee father, his discovery of his sexuality and many other topical issues.

As a reader, it completely sucks you in. I could not stop listening. I just let the words wash over me and transport me into Michael's world.

With this novel, I felt the same as I did with Kacen Callender's, Felix Ever After, in that I was completely and whole-heartedly entranced by the main character's story and emotions.

I think with both, it has to do with the way the stories were written. You are reading from the main character's perspectives the entire way through and you get access to their deepest, most open thoughts. Thoughts they may never even choose to vocalize to other characters.

I think due to this special insight and openness with emotion, it is very easy to become attached to them, as you know how precious they are and how hurtful the world can be.

It made me feel protective of both Michael and Felix; it also opened my eyes to perspectives I will never be able to understand via personal experience.

That's the best way I can think to describe how this book made me feel. My apologies if that makes no sense at all.

My best advice, read it for yourself. I think you'll understand after you do.

I loved the evolution of Michael's character, as he literally grows up and discovers the best ways for him to express himself and live happily. His character is very open to the experience of University life and takes in all the activities that may not have been available to him when he was younger.

When he joins the Drag Society, Michael begins to gain the confidence he needs to finally be the person he wants to be. These sections, particularly the final scene with his performance, were incredibly moving. Applause for days!

In short, this is an amazing novel, one I think any person can read and take their own lessons from. I will definitely be more comfortable picking up novels written in verse in the future.

Let this be a lesson to you, read outside of your comfort zones!! You never know what GEMS you will find!

Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews154k followers
March 30, 2021
4.5 stars

“You are a full human being. It's never as simple as being half and half.”
This was a stunning book!

We follow Michael as he grows from a child to a teenager to a young adult. We are right with him when he takes his first tentative steps towards adulthood and finding his identity.
This book is a fairy tale in which I am the prince and the princess.
I am the king and the queen.
This was one of my very first verse novels and I don't think I got the full effect by listening to the audiobook.

I could tell that the sentence structure was different from a regular novel but I think I would have had more of an impact if I had read it (especially considering the regular book apparently had a pictures and other visual formats to enhance the story).

I did really enjoy this book though - Michael's story was compelling and beautifully told. I loved watching him grow and develop throughout.

The story was well-crafted - it covered so many years and never skipped the beat.

I loved the representation and the wonderful characters that the story surrounds. Michael's family and his family of choice were both fabulous.

And the ending was fantastic!

All in all, I would recommend it.
“I come from stories, myths, legends and folk tales”

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Kevin (Irish Reader).
274 reviews3,928 followers
April 16, 2020
Don’t come out because you think that society expects you to.
Come out for yourself.
Come out to yourself

This book was such an impactful read for me and the epilogue had me sobbing with how much I resonated with everything being said. This is an amazing book that deals with a coming of age LGBTQIA+ main character. It deals with race, racism, gender identity, sexuality, drag, internalized homophobia and homophobia. It is definitely a deep book but it does have lighthearted, loving moments. I would highly recommend this to anyone and cannot wait to read more from Dean Atta, loved this!

I also read this in a reading vlog on my YouTube channel and discussed more of my in depth thoughts on the book. You can watch that here: https://youtu.be/PzrU5cXV8mE
Profile Image for Josu Diamond.
Author 7 books32.8k followers
July 6, 2020
Este libro es excepcional.

Antes de empezar con la review solo diré una cosa: qué necesario es y qué agradecido me siento de haberle dado una oportunidad. Este es uno de esos libros que cambian vidas, que tienen un impacto positivo y que ayudará a miles de personas por todo el mundo, especialmente a la juventud LGTB racializada.

Dicho esto... let's go!

En The Black Flamingo el autor nos cuenta la historia de Michael, un joven gay medio jamaicano medio griego-chipriota de Reino Unido. El libro se divide en partes, pero nos narra su vida: desde que nació y sus primeros recuerdos hasta lo que sería la actualidad, con un Michael universitario y drag. Es una historia de superación, entendimiento, positividad, pero también sobre racismo, homofobia y exclusión.


El tono que le da Dean Atta es increíble. No va por lo triste o emocional, ni siquiera por lo sencillo. Es un viaje realista por la mente de Michael, y aprendemos junto a él en sus experiencias. El libro tiene desde poemas hasta mensajes de texto e ilustraciones, pero también juega en sí con la forma. Las páginas en negro son los momentos más importantes en la vida del protagonista, y destacan físicamente del resto del libro por eso mismo: porque destacan dentro de la narrativa del libro.

Aviso de que The Black Flamingo, como comento, es un mix de muchas cosas. Pero tened en cuenta que es un libro narrado en prosa, exceptuando algunos momentos muy pequeños. Pero, también quiero deciros, que eso no os eche para atrás. De hecho, quizá eso hace que la historia cale tanto y se agarre a tu pecho para no soltarte, acompañando a Michael en cada decisión que toma como si fueran tuyas propias.

El libro explora con temas como la identificación. ¿Es Michael lo suficientemente negro al ser una mezcla? ¿Tiene espacio en la comunidad negra o en la griega? O directamente: ¿Michael vive bullying por ser negro o por ser gay? Son preguntas que el protagonista se plantea, y cuyo arco es increíble. Como comento, aprendes junto al protagonista, y hay grandes momentos donde diferentes personajes intervienen en injusticias o en call-outs a Michael u otros personajes. Ese detalle me ha gustado porque creo que expresa muy bien la sociedad en la que estamos (y de la que Michael forma parte, habiendo nacido al filo de los 2000, o sea, Generación Z). Si hay un momento, aunque sea mínimamente racista o de homofobia interiorizada, se discute y se comenta.

la poeseea

Dejando de lado lo que aprendes y lo que no, es decir, las enseñanzas que pueden salir del libro, el viaje de Michael y el tema de la edición, en The Black Flamingo nos encontramos con un coming-on-age, aunque al ser un libro 'resumen' de toda una vida, es una etiqueta un poco ambigua, pero justamente una etiqueta ambigua es la mejor definición que se le podría dar a este libro. Hay escenas de instituto con chicas populares, mensajitos de amor, salidas a discotecas, tramas familiares, romance... Es un libro que tiene absolutamente de todo, y me sorprende porque no lo pensé en un primer momento. Me dije a mí mismo: "si es un libro en prosa y juegan tanto con el espacio y las ilustraciones, no debe tener demasiado contenido". Y, de nuevo, me he llevado un gran zas en la boca.

No me ha gustado que el marketing que rodea el libro sea sobre 'un chico drag queen' cuando... no es así. De hecho, todo ese tema surge ya pasada la primera mitad del libro. Si tu máxima pretensión es esa... te vas a llevar una decepción. Por eso insisto en que es una historia que tiene muchísimo más que aportar que eso.

En definitiva: The Black Flamingo es un libro increíble. He vivido con muchísima intensidad la historia de Michael, y aunque hay cosillas que no me han convencido demasiado, en general es uno de esos libros que TIENES que leer sí o sí. En serio: haceos el favor.
Profile Image for may ➹.
470 reviews1,894 followers
June 9, 2020
this book was so good for many reasons, including the line “Rowan looks like Ed Sheeran if he was handsome”

Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
July 9, 2020
Gorgeously unique, Dean Atta's The Black Flamingo is a salute to finding and loving yourself.

Michael is a half-Jamaican, half Greek Cypriot boy growing up in London. He realizes early on that being mixed-race makes him different, as he’s not black enough for some in his family and not Greek enough for others.

He also knows he’d rather play with dolls and his female friends, and kiss the boys. After some ridicule by his peers he finds a way to get by, and he forms a close friendship with Daisy, a fellow outcast. But while his coming out doesn’t surprise anyone, he realizes he still has some growing and learning to do, and he needs to figure out who he is.

When he gets to university, he’s ready for freedom, but he still feels out of place until he finds The Drag Society. It is there he learns exactly how amazing and fierce he is, how much the only person’s opinion that matters is his own, and that when you love yourself it makes it easier to love others and be loved by them.

"He is me, who I have been,
who I am, who I hope to become.
Someone fabulous, wild, and strong.
With or without a costume on."

What an incredible, emotional, powerful book. This is a novel-in-verse interspersed with poems Michael writes, but it doesn’t read any differently than a traditional novel.

I devoured this one. I think this is such an empowering, ultimately joyful book that I will remember for a long time. Dean Atta has created a gorgeous book about race and pride at exactly the right time. May we all be as fierce as the Black Flamingo!

My month of Pride Reads keeps rolling!!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for B .
107 reviews12.1k followers
August 23, 2021
“When it's time to go onstage, know that you're not ready but this is not about being ready … it's about being free. I don't have a clue what I'm doing but that's not going to stop me.”

love love LOVE!! This story is told in verse and I don’t always expect for the poems to still be “poetic”, but these really were. There was a wonderful mix of storytelling mixed with poems he was writing throughout the story, as well as poems that helped him understand his own thoughts. It’s beautiful and hard at times, with topics surrounding identity. He discusses what it feels like to be mixed or “half”, a feeling of not belonging even when you know you’re deeply loved, and sexuality. Everything about this was beautiful but if there was only one section I could read over and over again, it’s the epilogue. Actually, it would be the whole ending, but especially the epilogue.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
210 reviews158 followers
December 3, 2021
The Black Flamingo is the story of Michael, a mixed race boy in London with a Jamaican, absent, father and a Greek-Cypriot mother. It’s about a boy who comes to terms with his identity as a mixed, gay teen, who, when at university finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A beautiful story about the power of embracing your uniqueness.

I just adored this! I originally bought this to read during pride month but unfortunately I didn’t get to it. Written in verse, The Black Flamingo is a quick, light hearted, coming of age story that covers topics such as race, racism, gender, sexuality, internalised homophobia, drag, friendship, and more. I loved Michael, he was strong and brave, yet humble and open-minded. I'm so grateful to have been able to follow his journey.

This story is a gentle reminder to be your fiercest self. I highly recommend, you won't be disappointed 👌🏻
Profile Image for Lucy Tonks.
436 reviews703 followers
March 19, 2021
"This book is a fairy tale
in which I am the prince and the princess.
I am the king and the queen.
I am my own wicked
witch and fairy godmother."

Wow this book was just wow. It is such an amaing book that everyone should read it.

This book follows this mixed race gay boy who comes to accept his identity as a drag artist called The Black Flamingo.

"I can’t be your friend without calling this out. Your ignorance may be innocent but the racism is real."

I loved how this book challenged things as "ordinary" and showed us how Michael embraced his uniqueness. We are all unique, no person is the same, but because we want to fit in this world we tend to hide that and just be "ordinary". I loved how this book challenged this idea and showed us why is good to be your own unique person.

Of course, I loved the LGBT representation in this book. Seeing our main character coming to terms that he is gay, not being afraid of his identity and who he actually is, is such a big part of the back that I loved so much. Michael is an amazing character, and I lived following his journey form childhood until college where he started to discover himself. And Michael wasn't the only LGBT character, we had quite a few other characters sprinkled through out the story which I absolutely loved reading about and seeing them interact with Michael.

My only complaint about this book and the reason that I couldn't give this book a 5 star rating is the writing style. Before you say anything, it's not a bad writing style by any means. It actually is an amazingly written book, but it's told in verse and I tend to feel a bit disconnected because of that with these type of stories. I just feel that I don't get the full picture, the full story because of it. It can be very lyrical and I just find it too hard sometimes to actually connect with anything happening in the story.

Overall if you're interesting in this type of stories, don't be afraid to pick this book up. It's worthy, even if it's not a book that you usually tend to pick up.

"Don’t come out for anyone else’s sake.
Don’t come out because you think
society expects you to.
Come out for yourself.
Come out to yourself."
Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
673 reviews5,443 followers
June 19, 2020
A rather powerful and moving story told in a beautiful, poetic format. Unlike anything I've ever read before and there were so many moments I could relate to this as a gay man. Simply wonderful!
Profile Image for Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction).
444 reviews6,736 followers
June 20, 2020
This book is so worth the read! Not my usual kind of read in terms of genre (contemporary) or format (verse), but it certainly convinced me that I need to give contemporary as a whole more of a chance. This is a book that will stick with me. Focusing largely on identity, this book shows the fluidity of life, the complications of loving relationships, the need to confront the internalisations of society...and so much more. So much is said in so little words, and it really packs a punch. Definitely encourage everybody to pick this up.
September 29, 2021

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I don't actually usually like novels written in verse, so I'm kind of glad I went into this cold because if I'd known what I was getting into, I wouldn't have bought it and I would have missed out on a pretty great story. THE BLACK FLAMINGO is the coming of age tale (yes, told in verse) of a young gay man living in England. He's half Jamaican, half Greek, and starting from childhood, we see how he begins to form his identity as a biracial man of color who is attracted to men.

BLACK FLAMINGO does a lot of really great things, like showing how people in the LGBT+ community can be (either consciously or not) racist or have biases against other types of LGBT+ members that should be called out for the safety and well-being of others in the group. It also goes over the fetishization of gay men by women, so-called straight guys who identify as straight but sleep with men but refuse to call it what it is because of internalized homophobia, and also-- ultimately-- what it is to stand up for yourself and stand out.

I liked how drag culture ended up being what gave the hero, Michael, his confidence. I also liked his relationship with his mom and half-sister a lot, and how the author approached blended families. The verse also ended up working for the story because it made it feel more like a journal. The author also did some interesting things with language and repetition and sometimes even rhyming, which made it feel less gimmicky than it could have been. Even if you don't normally like novels written in verse, I'd encourage you to give it a try. BLACK FLAMINGO is a very mature, thoughtful work about a lot of important subjects that are very relevant to teens and the way the title comes into play is fun.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,165 reviews2,233 followers
May 29, 2021
This one totally surprised me!

First of all, it's a book in verse.
Second, it has awesome poetry content in between.
Third, the illustration is just amazing!

But what got me the most was the narration which is heartfelt, piercing, meaningful and wholesome.

I have read some coming of age, young adult queer LGBTQ plus fiction and non-fiction but this one stands out as something very close to heart and it almost reads to me like a biographical fiction.

It is the first time for me to read about the Drag community and it has been represented so well.

The only issue for me is one particular line in this book that says:
"Rowan looks like if Ed Sheeran was handsome."

The point being Ed Sheeran does not represent 'not handsome', author. This is just unacceptable.

But nonetheless I liked the concepts and the representations in the book.

Love the author and artist references!

And yes, this book is utterly colourful! Literally and coverwise 💭
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,923 followers
February 21, 2022
new favourite 🥺🥺

this was so touching and relatable even though I’m not going through the same problems I just ❤️ so much love

I love that they paid homage to the drag community.

"Your ignorance may be innocent but the racism is real."

— overall: 4.75 —

The plot doesn’t go very in depth as it is written in verse but I think that it was actually the best device to write the story, it focused on all the right parts. Fast paced and overall just an incredible journey that spans highschool through college which I didn’t expect but loved. The writing is powerful and straight to the point, we love to see it.

Nothing I hate more than purposeful ignorance.

I’m not the best person to review the reflection of the drag aspect but I related to it a lot as a performer and I don’t know.... a person.

Highly recommend. 😫❤️

"Granddad asks, “Why does it matter if he’s black? The other flamingos don’t care.” And I’m certain what he’s saying is “I love you.”"
Profile Image for Shawna Finnigan.
454 reviews300 followers
March 4, 2021
Powerful, captivating, awe-inspiring, beautiful, important... There are so many words I could use to describe this book and why everyone should read it. I went into this book knowing that it was an LGBTQ+ book written in verse, but I knew little else about it until I cracked open that first page and fell in love with this book. This book is one of the most heartfelt and well written books that I've ever read about finding who you are and where you belong. This is a book that teens need to read and even if you aren't mixed race or LGBTQ+, I guarantee you that you will relate to and be inspired by the main character in this book. This is a book that everyone needs to read at least once in their life because it will change you for the better.
Profile Image for Not My High.
221 reviews569 followers
August 5, 2022
"To, co noszę, noszę dla siebie.
To, co przedstawiam, przedstawiam dla siebie.
To, co piszę, piszę dla siebie."

Też chcę być odważny, pełny a nie pół-taki pół-taki, chcę być pewny mojej siły. Już dawno nie czułem się tak zainspirowany "The Black flamingo" uczy, otwiera i zachwyca. Cieszę się że powstają takie książki, które można kupić nastolatkowi (a nawet dorosłemu) i powiedzieć: "patrz jaki świat jest wielki i kolorowy. Patrz jak różni są ludzie, jak piękne są nasze ciała, nasze słowa i nasze występy.

Płaczę mocno,
Wait for it

TW gu33rf0bia, przemoc słowna (niewiele), używki (niewiele), rasizm
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
645 reviews243 followers
September 4, 2020
“Your ignorance may be innocent, but the racism is real."

Books told in verse nearly always leave a great impact on me. The Black Flamingo was no exception.

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

Michael is a mixed race gay teen who’s father left when he was young. We follow Michael from age six to nineteen as he navigates his identity and the stigma surrounding his skin colour and queerness. It isn’t until university that Michael discovers drag, though when he does its as if he can truly embrace who he is without scrutiny.


The Black Flamingo can be described as nothing except outstanding. The authenticity and heart coming from the author was evident in each word as it poured off the page. I finished this book over the course of a few hours, having loved every bit.

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

Michael’s narration was perfect. His internal monologue had me gripped from the start; his character development was executed with grace. This book was a changing experience, opening my mind to several topics and discussions I intend to read more about in the future. Dean Atta did a fantastic job for his first full novel.

For a quick and easy read told in verse, The Black Flamingo is more than worth a read. It is a book that will give several teens hope and strength in their identity.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
901 reviews775 followers
August 11, 2020
In verse, gorgeous, slice of life yet not, amazingly heartfelt and surprisingly lighthearted coming-of-age.

Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★

The Black Flamingo totally shocked me. First it shocked me because I bought it and didn't realize it was written in verse. Then it shocked me because I read it in one sitting. And then it shocked me at how amazing it was—which shouldn't have been shocking, but to be honest as it was my first verse novel and I'm NOT a fan of poetry, I thought that would impact my enjoyment. WOW it did not. I loved it.

Michael is half-Jamaican and half-Greek, and growing up in London during the 2010s. His Greek mother raises him and his half-sister surrounded with love and expectations. (One of the most important things to pull from Michael's earlier life is the importance of his mother's presence in his life—I loved its realness and its love.)

As Michael navigates growing up gay and biracial in a predominantly white/straight school district, we as the reader are treated to individual scenes that peel back Michael's thoughts and feelings and simultaneously throw us at lightning speed through his early years, middle school, high school, and most memorably, college.

It's hard to go into the details as the verse format feels so brief and deep. But trust me - this novel is packed with positive messaging, raw emotions, coming-of-age goodness, and the enduring thread of finding your truth.

This was such a beautiful read. In particular, I think it's worth mentioning that this novel is about Michael, for Michael, and ends with Michael. I loved the window into his internal thoughts...this was probably a direct result of the verse format. It felt so intimate.

Also, talk about an important piece of the YA contemporary canon. It's important to have queer tales that focus on all aspects of the teen experience, and this was a wonderful piece of the pie. It was uplifting, lighthearted, filled with positive and loving family relationships, and full of the usual bits of teen life: am I liked? am I loved? who am I? who do I want to be? do I be what my family is, do I follow their path? can I do both? do I need to choose now?

Good questions, and Michael gives great answers. Fantastic debut.

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Profile Image for Jodie✨.
71 reviews3,370 followers
February 6, 2021
Did I stay up until 4am and read this book in one sitting? Yes. Yes I did. It’s just that good.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,044 reviews13k followers
November 13, 2020
Trigger warnings for homophobia, racism, and bullying.

So short, but such a powerful read. I listened to the audio of this and love the different snippets we got of Michael's life from elementary school to when he's in college. I felt so connected to Michael from page one as he is trying to understand his identity in a world that's not the most accepting. I loved it and only wish it were a bit longer so we could see Michael as he continued to grow and understand his identity!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,622 reviews5,062 followers
April 10, 2022
"So who is The Black Flamingo?"

"He is me, who I have been,
who I am, who I hope to become.
Someone fabulous, wild, and strong.
With or without a costume on."

I'd been meaning to read The Black Flamingo since it took the book community by storm a couple of years ago, and it definitely did NOT disappoint. Following Michael, a young biracial (Jamaican/Greek Cypriot) British boy, we start off at a young age in his life and watch him grow into a college freshman learning self-love through drag.

The entire story is told as a novel in verse, but the first-person narrative gave the book a very autobiographical feeling that was beautiful to experience. There's a lot of commentary on race, gender, sexuality, and feeling "othered" by your loved ones that a lot of readers will absolutely relate to, but most of all, I loved seeing this beautiful queer young Black boy celebrate every facet of his identity by the end of it.

It's for your liberation. It's knowing that after this nothing will be the same for you. It's a rebirth.

Representation: Michael is Jamaican/Greek Cypriot and self-identifies as both Black and mixed, is gay, and uses he/him pronouns but seems to be exploring some elements of his gender; several side characters are Black and/or multiracial; several side characters are queer, including gay, lesbian, bi, and trans on-page representations

Content warnings for: bullying, homophobia, racism, substance abuse, absent parent, brief mention of child abuse

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