Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta


I don't actually usually like novels written in verse, so I'm kind of glad I went into this cold because if I'd known what I was getting into, I wouldn't have bought it and I would have missed out on a pretty great story. THE BLACK FLAMINGO is the coming of age tale (yes, told in verse) of a young gay man living in England. He's half Jamaican, half Greek, and starting from childhood, we see how he begins to form his identity as a biracial man of color who is attracted to men.

BLACK FLAMINGO does a lot of really great things, like showing how people in the LGBT+ community can be (either consciously or not) racist or have biases against other types of LGBT+ members that should be called out for the safety and well-being of others in the group. It also goes over the fetishization of gay men by women, so-called straight guys who identify as straight but sleep with men but refuse to call it what it is because of internalized homophobia, and also-- ultimately-- what it is to stand up for yourself and stand out.

I liked how drag culture ended up being what gave the hero, Michael, his confidence. I also liked his relationship with his mom and half-sister a lot, and how the author approached blended families. The verse also ended up working for the story because it made it feel more like a journal. The author also did some interesting things with language and repetition and sometimes even rhyming, which made it feel less gimmicky than it could have been. Even if you don't normally like novels written in verse, I'd encourage you to give it a try. BLACK FLAMINGO is a very mature, thoughtful work about a lot of important subjects that are very relevant to teens and the way the title comes into play is fun.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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