The Black Flamingo

The Black Flamingo
Age Range
Release Date
May 26, 2020
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Stonewall Book Award Winner!

A fierce coming-of-age verse novel about identity and the power of drag, from acclaimed poet and performer Dean Atta. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Kacen Callender.

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.

"In this uplifting coming-of-age novel told in accessible verse, Atta chronicles the growth and glory of Michael Angeli, a mixed-race kid from London, as he navigates his cultural identity as Cypriot and Jamaican as well as his emerging sexuality." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")

Editor review

1 review
moving and poignant
Overall rating
Writing Style
THE BLACK FLAMINGO is a beautifully composed and poignant book of poetry. The poetry chronicles the life of Michael, who is mixed race and gay in a world (our current world) where neither is easy. Through his life, we see the challenges and the double standards that appear from a young age. The poetry talks about the standards for masculinity and femininity as he looks at his younger sister who can play with his toys and wear his hand-me-down clothes, but he cannot play with a Barbie out in the world or wear dresses.

He also examines the feeling of being mixed race, and how he does not seem to fit into the groups society places on him. He appears Black, but even among Black people, he is not accepted in the same way. People also frequently make judgments about him based on his appearance, and this is a theme throughout, said poignantly through poems.

Sexuality is another difficult situation, where he faces homophobia from friends, family, and bullies at school. The courage that he has to allow himself to be who he is shines through the pages, and also the challenges that come from it.

What I loved: This book speaks to the soul. The poetry is so beautiful and heartfelt. Michael really leaps off the pages as someone trying to find his own way in life and the people who will be his "group." This book will certainly resonate with readers for its clarity and truths. I would certainly recommend this to everyone. Dean Atta has something to say, and it's really important.

Final verdict: Moving and powerful, THE BLACK FLAMINGO is a story told through poetry that is worth a read and a reread. Highly recommend picking this one up for its important messages and the beautiful way in which it conveys a life.
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