Stonewall Book Award Winner * A Time Magazine Best YA Book Of All Time
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.
"In this uplifting coming-of-age novel told in accessible verse, Atta chronicles the growth and glory of Michael Angeli, a mixed-race kid from London, as he navigates his cultural identity as Cypriot and Jamaican as well as his emerging sexuality." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")
In this uplifting coming-of-age novel told in accessible verse, Atta (I Am Nobody's Nigger, for adults) chronicles the growth and glory of Michael Angeli, a mixed-race kid from London, as he matures from a child to a man. Navigating cultural identity as Cypriot and Jamaican as well as his emerging sexuality, Michael sheds the painful baggage of his absent father by taking his mother's name. He also grows from a kid who cries when he receives a Ninja Turtle instead of the Barbie of his dreams, to a teen who cries after being rejected by his crush, to a man who doesn't cry but rather shouts when a partner breaks his heart. As a teen, he discovers his love of poetry and abandons his love for song, only to fall head over heels for drag at university. Atta expounds on matters of identity and the struggle to find love and community as a gay black man in a majority-white space Michael feels neither Greek nor black enough, nor, in his estimation, queer enough to fit in. The book's strongest asset is Atta's poetic imagery, which reflects such memorable moments as the origin of Michael's drag persona (from a news story: "a black flamingo/ has landed on the island") and "How to Do Drag" ("Remember eyebrows are sisters,/ not twins"). Atta's story uplifts as it informs and entertains as it affirms; in Michael's words, "It's about being free." Ages 14 up.