I'm guilty of judging books by their covers. I chose this book for the obvious reasons. I may have a slight problem collecting flamingos, but I am SO glad I picked up this one. WOW! This book is poignant and gave me all the feels. It is a story written in verse and I devoured it. The story has one of the best reading flows I've experienced in a long time. Once I started, I had to know where Michael's (main character) story was headed. This book spans from when he is a young child longing for a Barbie doll, but gets a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, to his college years and his debut in DRAG as the Black Flamingo. I don't know how Dean told this incredible story with so few words. There is this longing throughout the story about searching for the "just right" group. Michael is too Greek for one group, too Black for another, not quite queer enough.
There are so many beautiful passages in this novel. One of my favorites is Lennie's (Michael college friend) monologue on page 298 explaining the different kinds of racism, it hits hard. Page 392 brings Micheal's thoughtful speech to Jack (former lover): "I don't need to be a man for you or anyone else." The power and self awareness that he possesses in that scene made me proud. Page 382 delivers a list of thank yous to a multitude of artists. It is 79 names long! I would be remiss to tell you that I took the time to look up every single name! Of course, a handful I was already familiar with, but I loved looking at all of their contributions to the world.
Lastly, can I just say that I love DRAG! I mean really, the glamour of it all. As I read this book, I felt myself wanting to sit in on one of Mzz B's (Michael's DRAG instructor) classes. Beginning on page 367 there is 5 whole pages dedicated to the true art of DRAG. "It's giving up worrying about being universal and being you. It's doing what feels true. It's knowing that doing drag and being trans are not the same. It's gender nonconforming. It's gender bending. It's gender ascending."
This book is truly special, and I am thrilled that we have more to look forward to from author Dean Atta!
I also want to make note that my last two selections are novels that are frequently banned for being queer literature. I want you to know that you don't have to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community to read these titles. Be an ally and flex those empathy muscles. Be a supporter of ALL banned books and support intellectual freedom.
You're up next Cammie!