26 Oct 2022

Audio #Review: THE BLACK FLAMINGO by Dean Atta


Author: Dean Atta
Series: N/A
Source: Audio from Libro.fm
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

A fierce coming-of-age verse novel about identity and the power of drag, from acclaimed poet and performer Dean Atta. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Kacen Callender.

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.

Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
Content Warningphysical fight, homophobia, discussion of internalized lesbophobia, racism, bullying, parental abandonment, recreational drug use, drinking, drugging and subsequent memory loss.

I have heard that this is better in the physical form since it has additional pieces to help tell the story, but as an audiobook it was just... bad. It didn't hit me the right way and just felt disjointed rather than a narrative through poems and prose.

I am hit or miss with novels in verse, but this didn't feel like a novel written in verse at all. It just felt like half thoughts and sentences, with a mixture of personal essays in between.

I really liked Michael but I wanted to spend more time with him throughout his life instead of in bursts. I feel like we didn't get enough of a sense of his character or motivations because we hadn't been privy to a lot of internal thoughts or important milestones because of the way this was written.

I would also like to just point out a few things I noticed while listening: It's very important while writing a book about drag culture to include the difference between drag and being trans as they're vastly different. There's also instances where the story talks about trans issues (pronouns, gender identity, sex assigned at birth) and doesn't get it quite right. And while that's because Michael has had a lack of queer representation, I think it should still have been addressed in the text.

I do recommend giving The Black Flamingo a try even if it's not your usual type of read, but not in audiobook form at all.

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick this up?

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