Friday, September 4, 2020

YA Review: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Title: The Black Flamingo
AuthorDean Atta
Year Published: 2019

Category: YA fiction (LGBTQ, verse)
Pages: 403
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)United Kingdom

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he's navigated what it means to be Greek Cypriot and Jamaican--but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael's coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs--and the Black Flamingo is born.

Review: I have finally read another 2019 YMA Winner! This book wonUsually I am really good about this challenge, but this years, I've been reading more recent YA novels and seem to have lagged on my personally-set challenge. 

Michael is a very likable character who, though he is trying to figure out exactly who he is as he moves on to university, isn't trying to decide if he is gay or not. This book looks at a much deeper level than just sexual preference and shows Michael appreciating each experience he has with family, friends, crushes, and bullies as chances to learn about himself, his ethnicities (he's bi-racial), his heritage, and who he wants to be. He is comfortable with himself and really pursuing happiness and people who make him happy on various levels.

I liked Michael's reflection on family and the roles that different people played from his single mom to his sister to his uncle. They all have a positive impact on him and he appreciates them all differently.

This book is written in verse and in addition contains poetry written by the main character. I really enjoyed the poems and the messages that the author puts out, like this one as he has Michael's uncle speaking after he is pulled over by the police for no reason (page 209):

"I always thought education
and money was going
to earn me respect,
but a successful black man
is a threat. Pulling me over 
for driving a nice car.
This isn't what it's like
to be black in this country
or anywhere in the world.
They interrupt our joy.
Our history. Our progress.
They know they can't
stop us unless they kill us
but they can't kill us all,
so you're living your life
and suddenly interrupted
by white fear or suspicion.
They fear sharing anything
Our success is a threat."

Challenges for which this counts: 
This counts for the Popsugar challenge because it won an award in 2019.
 

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