The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Hi Everyone, it’s Becky. I’m quickly trying to read through all the YA books that are getting Printz buzz, and The Black Flamingo was at the of my list. This book-in-verse is a beautiful exploration of family, race, and sexuality.

Title: The Black Flamingo
Author: Dean Atta

Summary: Michael is coming of age in a society that judges him because of his mixed heritage, and his sexuality. Michael must deal with prejudices about his heritage, family, and sexuality while trying to find his true identity.

Review: Books-in-verse are hard for me, sometimes they are amazing, and sometimes they feel incomplete. The Black Flamingo is one of the amazing ones. Dean Atta crafted a story that is filled with emotion and examines relevant issues using very few words, but he says so much. Michael’s story explores the issues of an inter-racial child who never feels like he’s truly accepted while he is also neglected by his absent father. The story of Michael’s struggles with his family is honest, heartfelt, and something that many children experience. That storyline alone makes the book excellent, but Atta elevated the novel through his discussion of race and sexuality. Michael’s story highlights the way black men are viewed in society. His experiences show how he is judged and mistrusted by just the color of his skin. The depiction of Michael’s experiences is something that needs to be highlight more often to make people question the status quo. Yet, The Black Flamingo‘s greatest strength is Micheal’s journey to acceptance about his sexuality. Michael is stumbling through the world trying to find someone who will love and accept him while also dealing with the possibility he may lose his family and friends. It’s not until he finds a group who have embraced drag does he truly feel accepted. Black Flamingo is an important novel that explores relevant issues with an honest narrative voice, that is destined to become a YA classic.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5

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