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The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

“This is your next obsession.  The Black Flamingo is a book filled with beauty, honesty, and an intimacy that verse can only amplify.”

Cecelia Beckman Sheaf and Ink

The Story

Michael grows up in London.  As a gay mixed raced teen he’s trying to navigate adolescence. Not quite feeling he is enough of his Greek or Jamaican heritage.  And as Michael moves from childhood into adulthood he begins to understand who he wants to be and where he belongs.

I am the black flamingo. The black flamingo is me trying to find myself. 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.

Dean Atta, The Black Flamingo

My Review The Black Flamingo

There’s something about free verse that delivers on so many levels.  A rhythm captivating a rawness from each carefully chosen word.  Raised goosebumps as the words jump off the page, wrapping around you like a second skin as you feel the impact of a jolt of rage, or fear, or sadness.  An honesty you experience first-hand, robbed of breath, a pin prick of hurt felt in your chest spreading like spilled ink on a page, followed by the sensation of wanting to comfort. To let Michael know he is seen. He is loved.

Atta deftly traverses the rough and difficult terrain of abandonment, neglect, homophobia, racism, identity, and found family.  He explores each of these aspects over the course of a childhood.  Brought to the surface like a glass bottle holding a message that is indelible and powerful.

I often feel like a bad egg that was not meant to be, like a dummy egg cracked open, an impossible thing, but somehow living and thriving, defying the zookeepers’ intentions, an experiment they watch and patiently wait to see what m ight become of me, to see how I survive, without complete


Dean Atta, The Black Flamingo

My Thoughts

A coming-of-age debut, The Black Flamingo is a book readers should pick up as soon as possible.  A story of self-discovery and self-acceptance Atta’s narrative overflows with honesty, fervor, and insight.  Transporting readers from Michael’s tender age of six, watching him grow as he questions and doubts himself along the way.  Transitioning from each age, where Michael’s doubts intensify.  The exploration of his questions about race and gender, high school crushes and friendships is as thoughtful as it is profound.

And after I finished reading I needed to take a moment to collect my thoughts (and my emotions too, that ending!). It’s a book that should be experienced.  To feel the bright and dark emotions the words invoke.

it doesn’t matter what age you come out. Be a beautiful thing. Be the moonlight, too. Remember you have the right to be proud. Remember you have the right to be you.

Dean Atta, The Black Flamingo

A Few Last Thoughts

The Black Flamingo is a masterpiece.  A beautiful constellation in the universe of queer coming-of-age young adult fiction.

I’m so glad this book is in the world.

Happy Reading ̴ Cece

RATING: ink blotink blotink blotink blot – Exceptionally Inked

Author: Dean Atta

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: May, 2020

Pages: 416

ISBN-10:  0062990292

ISBN-13:  978-0062990297

Audience: 14 and up

Jacket Art: Adriana Bellet

Jacket Design and Lettering: Jenna Stempel-Lobell

You can find The Black Flamingo at HarperCollins Publishing

Similar Books to The Black Flamingo Recommended by Sheaf and Ink

Like a Love Story
Like a Love Story, Abdi Nazemian

I Wish You All the Best
I Wish You All the Best, Mason Deaver

All Boys Aren't Blue
All Boys Aren’t Blue, George M. Johnson

Need More Book Recommendations?

Sheaf & Ink has reviewed a number of Young Adult novels in LBTQ contemporary fiction and poetry like The Black Flamingo. Read Like A Love Story and Clap When You Land reviews to find your next favorite book and join the conversation. We love hearing from you.

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Erin H

    Your blog is beautifully curated, and I love the diversity of reads. Black Flamingo is a book I definitely want to read. All Boys Aren’t Blue was incredibly eye opening and powerful to me, so I’m sure I’ll love this one in verse as well.

    1. Cece Beckman

      I’m so glad you were able to read All Boys Aren’t Blue. I’m reading that in a a group read along as I’ve heard so many wonderful things about the book. Hope you get a chance to read Black Flamingo it’s such a beautiful book. Thank you Erin so glad you’re part of my community.

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