I recently read “The Black Flamingo” by Dean Atta. I actually bought it on a going out of business sale at the store but I’ve seen it on Instagram a lot. I was apprehensive about reading it because it dealt with a gay character. I’ve read a book about a non-binary character before but that was about it. I mean sure some books that I read had gay characters, but not many were centered around a gay character. Besides, I always say representation matters. I want my students who do identify as gay or trans to see themselves in the books that they read so that they know that they’re not alone.
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. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
It wasn’t bad. It was a nice quick read. The pacing was really good. I don’t really know much about drag but I did love the theme of identity and finding out and owning who you are. I’m not mixed and so I don’t know how it feels to be a mixed race person in this world so it was really nice to read a book from the perspective of a mixed race person. Mikey was a half Greek half Jamaican boy in the story, which was pretty interesting.
There were some times in the book where they talked about race and what it is to be a black person in this world and I must say, I loved it. It gives insight to how it feels to be black and people make the wrong assumptions about you! I just wish that more people can read this book and really take to heart what it’s like to be black.
Mikey dealt with racist comments from both strangers and from his Greek family members. I can’t imagine what that feels like to have someone in your own family be racist towards you and couldn’t love you for who you were. Speaking of loving you for who you are, I really appreciated how his mother was so supportive of him and his lifestyle. Even those at his Catholic school weren’t too prejudice towards him. I thought for sure he was going to run into some mean adults. But he didn’t.
Of course there were some bumps along the road: his dad chose not to be in his life (his grandma and uncle were great to him), he met randoms online and took drugs from them, had to deal with some mean girls, and sleeping with a guy he barely knew.
I did have some quotes that I enjoyed:
- “But, finally, I am the fairy/finding my own magic”
- “Number one: ‘Can I touch your feathers?/ Number two: ‘Is it true what they say about/the size of your wings?”’
- ” …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 I wanted/for your moving day/but this is 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”
I gave it a 3.5/5 stars. This is a book I definitely will have on my classroom library book shelf.
What book are you into at the moment?