“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
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
love.Dean Atta, The Black Flamingo
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: – Exceptionally Inked
Author: Dean Atta
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May, 2020
Audience: 14 and up
Jacket Art: Adriana Bellet
Jacket Design and Lettering: Jenna Stempel-Lobell
You can find The Black Flamingo at HarperCollins Publishing
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