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The Black Flamingo

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  20,056 ratings  ·  4,366 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published August 8th 2019 by Hodder Children's Books
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Kaje Harper I had the US Kindle version, bought yesterday, and did not have this error - your best bet might be to ask Amazon customer service if there's a new ve…moreI had the US Kindle version, bought yesterday, and did not have this error - your best bet might be to ask Amazon customer service if there's a new version released that could be pushed to your device, and if not contact the publisher, since Amazon doesn't fix formatting. (less)
Amaya The book is not directly a memoir or an autobiography - it is fiction. Michael has certain things in common with the author, Dean Atta, but the story …moreThe book is not directly a memoir or an autobiography - it is fiction. Michael has certain things in common with the author, Dean Atta, but the story is fictionalized. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.42  · 
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 ·  20,056 ratings  ·  4,366 reviews

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Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
*Update I reread this because I had listened to the audiobook the first time and then found out there were illustrations in it and I'm sooo glad I did
“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.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 wan
Emma Giordano
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, wow, my heart is so full. Dean Atta, this is exceptional; a piece 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 t
Miranda Reads
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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 t
Kevin (Irish Reader)
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Larry H
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
may ➹
this book was so good for many reasons, including the line “Rowan looks like Ed Sheeran if he was handsome”

Aug 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Éimhear (A Little Haze)
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I haven't loved verse novels in the past. I have found them hard to connect to...
Until The Black Flamingo.

Men are sand castles 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 in cement to fill the gaps
to make ourselves concrete constructions

This book is truly beautiful.
It's about understanding your own identity and knowing that you are the one in charge of the terms and conditions of such.

He is me, who I hav
Lucy Tonks
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-on-ebook
"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 cha
C.G. Drews
This was just beautiful, and I feel like I want half the book in quotes on my wall, because it's just so deeply about identity and self and figuring out how you can fit yourself into the things you admire. The queer self-discovery and love really filled me, although the book didn't feel long enough. I felt like Michael's life is just beginning and then we have to let him go 🥺💛

the story
It follows Michael from being a very small child till a late-teen in university (set in London!) and him discove
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, 2020-reads
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! ...more
Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)
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. Definitel ...more
Reading_ Tamishly
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

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 biracia
Althea | themoonwholistens ☾
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 col
Lauren Lanz
“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 wh
Shawna :)
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 a ...more
Amy Imogene Reads
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
Jun 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
ahhhh i loved this so much!! check out my thoughts here: ...more
Nov 13, 2020 added it
Shelves: audiobook
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!
Another wonderful memoir written partially in free verse form.
Touching, meaningful, and charming.

And just 3 hrs and 40 mins long. Quick and endearing - perfect for a Saturday afternoon.

Full review to come....


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Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Did I stay up until 4am and read this book in one sitting? Yes. Yes I did. It’s just that good.

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I have never read such a book in this format before. After a chapter I got so used to it I loved it. Especially with the pages that had illustrations on it, and variable page colours going from white to black. I can understand why that was done. Fabulous touch.

This is Michaels story.

The comparisons he makes to his confusion about himself is also about the confusion of those aro
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This book was excellent, I have nothing more to say really. It's the story of a mixed-race gay boy who discovers himself and his own identity through the most beautiful journey. It's such a current story that will speak to lots of people. This book deals with a wide range of very different topics, but it does so in a very truthful way. Also, it's all written in verse, which is something I always find very unique in a book. I'll definitely make sure to check out Dean Atta's other works. ...more
prag ♻
just want to hold this book to my chest and absorb the last twenty pages into my body through osmosis
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aoc, ya, q, qm, contemporary, db, loved-it, poetry
A beautiful coming-of-age story about a gay biracial black boy as he find his voice through poetry and drag.

For me, it's always a breath of fresh air to read about marginalized characters who are not from the US. Yes, Michael is British, and it's not difficult to find stories set in England, but stories about marginalized characters in contemporary are overwhelmingly American. In this story, you'll see Michael come to terms with what it means for him to be British and Jamaican and Cypriot; to be
Remember you have the right to be proud. Remember you have the right to be you.

Written in verse, this tells the story of Michael, a half Jamaican, half Greek-Cyprian boy, who prefers to play with barbies over Ninja Turtles. He's always known he was different and through these poems, he explores what that meant growing up, trying to find his tribe, the heartbreaks and betrayals and expression.

The Black Flamingo is, at its core, a love letter to the differences in you that make you stand out. Tha
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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 perfor ...more

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