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The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo

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"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. 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.'"

The Black Flamingo is a tale about finding your place in the world, growing up and coming out. Michael particularly struggles with this as a gay, mixed-race man and I really liked how Atta explores the intersections of these facets of Michael, especially how communities that are meant to support you can be divisive because of other parts of your self. The writing is so powerful and I loved the discussion around toxic masculinity, race and being LGBT+, with the intersections between identities forming strong discussion points.

Dean Atta's exploration of complicated relationships, both with friends and family, is such a welcome change from the often polarised portrayals in YA that don't allow room for character growth, without ever excusing despicable actions.

Atta has a beautiful writing style, giving his verse real impact, and its pairing with Anshika Khullar’s gorgeous illustrations works perfectly and adds an extra layer to the book that I loved.

I really liked how this book felt both quiet and ferociously loud and proud at the same time, tackling deep emotions and giving me frequent goosebumps. It tackles toxic masculinity, internalised homophobia and racism with thought-provoking, phenomenal writing that utterly entranced me.