The Black Flamingo

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2020. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062990297.
Gr 9 Up–Atta’s character-driven debut novel in verse offers readers an angst-filled look into the life of 19-year-old Mike Angeli. Mike’s story is set in modern London. He shares his views and experiences with identity beginning from the tender age of six; Mike is constantly reminded how he doesn’t fit in due to his mixed (Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican) background; this is exacerbated when he comes out as gay. It is not until Mike joins the Drag Society at university that he begins to accept who he is, no matter what boxes the world wants to put him in. Mike is an authentic character; his triumphs and trials feel like the reader’s own. His flaws and lessons learned make him human and easy to feel close to. The secondary characters, Daisy, Lennie, and others, have background stories and connections that add even more depth to the plot and to Mike’s development. Readers may be left wanting to know more about Mike’s time with the Drag Society, but that doesn’t detract from the deserving applause of Mike’s growth, and his path to self-acceptance.
VERDICT A triumphant and emotional story about standing up for and embracing oneself that readers of any orientation and ethnicity will relate to.

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