The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta – book review

Disclosure.  This post mentions a ticket I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Earlier this year I read Lark by Anthony McGowan which was the winner of the 2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal. However I also liked the sound of some of the other shortlisted titles, so for my next personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review, I have chosen to read one of them, namely The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, which was subsequently selected as the winner of 2020 Carnegie Shadowers Choice Awards, as voted for by children and young people. This book also won the Children’s and YA category of the 2020 Stonewall Book Awards and was shortlisted for the 2020 Jhalak Prize.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Here is the book blurb.

This is not about being ready, it’s not even about being fierce, or fearless, IT’S ABOUT BEING FREE.

Michael waits in the stage wings, wearing a pink wig, pink fluffy coat and black heels.

One more step will see him illuminated by spotlight.

He has been on a journey of bravery to get here, and he is almost ready to show himself to the world in bold colours …

Can he emerge as The Black Flamingo?

This book has been written in verse, interspersed with text messages and Michael’s own poems in a school note book. This combination works brilliantly and really draws you the reader in. And I love the illustrations too, especially the cover.

The story starts with Michael aged 6 wanting a Barbie doll and we follow his identity seeking journey through childhood, teens and into university, as he tries to see where he fits in. The story encompasses so many topics brilliantly – culture, race, gender, sexuality, bigotry, being bullied, homophobia, coming out, drag.

I highly recommend The Black Flamingo which is a brilliant diverse read, targeted at age 13+. A fantastic powerful read.


Margate Bookie

I’m also looking forward to listening to Dean Atta at one of the online Margate Bookie events later this month. I have received a free ticket for the Love with Dean Atta and Richard Skinner Bookie Chat session on 26 November.

The Margate Bookie is a charity that inspires a love of reading and writing through literary festivals and creative courses. They describe themselves as ‘the friendly lit fest’ by the sea, who are working to make Margate a bookish town, where words are enjoyed by all. You may see details of their events here. This year all the events have gone online, so may be enjoyed by book lovers everywhere.

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