Pages: 360 pages
Published: August 8, 2019 (US: May 26, 2020)
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books (US: Balzer + Bray)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Poetry, LGBT
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.
A character that tries to discover oneself and uses compelling words and powerful imagery? Sign me up please! The story of Michael is a story that will stay with me always and a story that I will love to return to over and over. The Black Flamingo is a powerful novel in verse that explores so many issues that are identifiable and relatable to readers of all ages. This is a story that is more than just a young man coming to terms with his sexuality but a thought-provoking tale that examines a young man becoming comfortable in his skin, finding his place in the world on his terms. When I read this, it made me look back at my childhood experiences, trying to find my personality without succumbing to stereotypes. And that is a big part of this story: going against those societal norms and accepting our uniqueness with open arms.
From a talkthat Dean Atta gave at the Hay Festival (and I highly encourage you to give it a listen), Atta says The Black Flamingo is a Cinderella story and Michael is looking for his fairy godmother. But in my opinion, Michael is his fairy godmother. He discovered happiness, his identity, on his terms. And I think that is the most important lesson that Atta teaches to his readers: you can become your saviour. The joys and trials that you go through make you the person in life. I can’t think of more a profound that highlights the importance of individuality.
If you are looking for a book to both entertain you and move you, then this is the book for you! Dean Atta created a beautiful story that conveyed so much emotion and passion that any reader can identify with. Instead of 2020 being the year of social distancing, let 2020 be the year of embracing our individuality and the amazing work of The Black Flamingo does just that.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars