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Summary

Fiercely told, this is a powerful coming-of-age story told in verse, from one of the UK's leading poets, Dean Atta. 

Perfect for fans of Sarah Crossan and Poet X.  

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.  

'I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.' 

©2019 Dean Atta (P)2019 Hodder Children’s Books

Critic reviews

"A bold and joyous hymn to self-discovery and acceptance." (The Bookseller)

What listeners say about The Black Flamingo

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    4 out of 5 stars

Peaceful Yet Powerful Coming-of-Age Story

For me, this book was everything I'd want from memoir. To be able to understand another perspective. To get into another mind, learn about their experiences, their anger, sorrow, joy... and come away with a new sense of social peace that that allows everything and everyone to just be. And this book did that for me, artfully.

The story follows Michael from childhood to manhood, as he discovers who he and where he belongs in a world that seems to reject him at every turn.

I most often hear this book being pitched to me as a 'gay book', whatever that is, but it was so much more than that. It was about being a child whose father shows no interest. It was about being biracial and never quite feeling like a perfect fit. It was about growing up in a 'broken' home. It was about microaggressions. It was about bias. It was about racism. It was also about the need to belong. The need to feel heard and seen. And it was about forgiveness.

What I loved about this is despite the writer being a gay man, he wasn't afraid to address his own bias within the LGBTQ+ community and the Black community. As a Londoner, he accurately portrayed a lot of the attitudes you find there, along with the common, painful biases people have when you have one parent or if your siblings don't have the same two parents as you. All of the issues addressed were done so candidly, not in a sorrowful or negative way, yet it didn't take anything away from real hurt and anger experienced. There so much understanding to gain and without a hint of didactic or aggressive tones.

The fact that the book is written in verse is another selling point for me. I just HAD to hear it on Audible as I wanted to grasp the writer's feelings -- I loved it. There were so many 'quoteables' in there and some stunning imagery and symbolism.

This is a quick read and in terms of diversity and inclusion it is rich with information. I would actually recommend this for anyone (especially white and cis) aiming to write more diversely as a careful reader will find lots of hints and tips in there as well as working example of using 'they' pronouns in writing.

Content Warnings: Mild violence (fighting, physical discipline), bullying, challenged racism, challenged homophobia.

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the black flamingo

I loved the fact that the author read it himself and the fact he was so confidant in reading it

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Amazing book

I loved this book so much and I love it being read by Dean Atta himself. I have read the book multiple times and have done the same with the audio book here on audible.

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I'm sad it's over!

I've just now finished this wonderful audiobook and I already miss it! I'm genuinely sad it's over. This was my first book by Dean Atta, but it won't be my last. It was also my first verse novel (I think that's what he called it in the acknowledgments? My apologies if I got it wrong.) and I really enjoyed the format! You can tell Atta's first love is poetry. It lend the whole book something beautifully unique that I loved coming back to.

(I feel like I should say something more profound, but I have nothing.)

An easy recommendation for everyone!

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essential middle grade/ya literature

Dean Atta's poetry clarifies beautifully what it is to be Black and Queer and illustrates the joys and freedoms of drag. Love.

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Uplifting and illuminating LGBTQ tale

Uplifting and illuminating coming-of-age LGBTQ tale.

It's a genre I don't tend to gravitate towards, so when I do read stories of gay teens I usually find something revealing that makes me appreciate the experience of those whose lives are different from my own - it's certainly vital to be taken outside your comfort zone and see the world through the eyes and experiences of others.

And Michael is rather a joy to share a few hours with. From his early years loving his Barbie and kissing other boys innocently at parties, to the first crushes and adolescent yearnings, to University and sexual experiences, we are taken through an adolescence of a young gay man who knows who and what he is and is seeking his future path and identity, the same as any teenager.

With family and friends, with relationships that fail or falter, with access to his internal monologue, it's a personal voyage with a young man you really want to succeed in life, to find love and acceptance. I was reminded of 'Everybody's Talking about Jamie' at times, the musical theatre production, for the uplifting moments, the gradual move the protagonist makes towards his likely path.

I loved the fact that the author narrated this for Audible, his voice really brought Michael to life. The audiobook kept me listening, even when I needed to stop for other things, I just wanted to stay with the story and find out what was next for Michael. Readers will enjoy listening to this as well as following on paper.

I learnt a lot about the experience of a gay teen, and Michael has the added element of being Cypriot-Jamaican as well, which was mentioned in the story. The University scenes reminded me of my own first days as a Fresher, the ending pitched just right for a warming conclusion.

A great choice for secondary school libraries and classrooms, an honest portrayal with heart.
For ages 13 and above.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

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  • Ru
  • 27-04-20

Beautifully written and narrated

I'll be getting the book to enjoy the illustrations. I'm excited for more by Dean Atta

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Phenomenal

One of my all time favourites for sure. Everything about this story was so endearing, so beautiful.

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  • Squita Martin
  • 13-06-21

LOVE LOVE LOVE

No words can express how amazing this book is! I absolutely love love love it!!

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  • L
  • 07-12-20

truly beautiful story

what a great story. really well written, wonderfully put together and self aware. would highly recommend.

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  • Sinder
  • 08-06-20

so good

such a powerful and magical story. everyone needs to read this one, as it's so eye opening!