Friday, August 19, 2011

ParrotFish - Ellen Wittlinger


Pages: 304

Published: January 4th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Date Finished: 19th August 2011

Rating: 4 stars ****

Recommended: Dylan [Youtube]

Synopsis: Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl, but it's a shock to everyone when she cuts her hair short, buys some men's clothes, and announces she'd like to be called by a new name, Grady. Although Grady is happy about his decision to finally be true to himself, everybody else is having trouble processing the news. Grady's parents act hurt; his sister is mortified; and his best friend, Eve, won't acknowledge his existence. On top of that, there are more practical concerns—for instance, which locker room is he supposed to use for gym class? Grady didn't expect his family and friends to be happy about his decision, but he also didn't expect kids at school to be downright nasty about it. But as the victim of some cruel jokes, Grady also finds unexpected allies, including the school geek Sebastian, and Kita Charles, who's a gorgeous senior. In a voice tinged with humor and sadness, Ellen Wittlinger explores Grady's struggles—struggles any teen will be able to relate to.


This book started off a little flat to me, but picked up pretty quickly and invited me into a world that almost seemed normal to its characters, but slightly unhinged to the readers. Angela, a strong character sure of herself takes us through a journey of self-assurance and determination to stay true to herself as Grady. Her family aren’t exactly accepting of her chosen path, but there are some people who admire the courage she shows.

I really enjoyed this book; I got right into it and was thinking about it all day. I read it really fast and the story propelled me. I adored Sebastian, he cracked me up and made me wish I had a friend like him who wasn’t afraid to stand up for my rights, not that Grady really needed a saviour, for the most part she was independent and didn’t let things bother her and maybe that’s what bothered me so much, that there was little personal character growth since she already knew who she was and didn’t let outsiders get to her.

Most of the minor characters played there parts, but I would have liked to know them a little better. To me the constant love interest seemed a secondary plot compared to the overall theme and even then I didn’t really feel much towards Kita and Russel. Eve on the other hand while well-constructed just annoyed the hell out of me. I adore Grady’s dad the most, he reminded me a lot of my own dad- awkward at times, but willing to accept Grady as a person rather than a gender.

It was intriguing looking at both aspects of the female and male side of the character and gender dysphoria in every aspect. Ellen approached a number of topics I had never considered about being a transgendered Female to male. Things like which locker room to change in and menstruation and what impact these simple things had on a greater scale through the transformation. However If You are looking for a dark, intense look at Gender Identity Disorder you won’t find it in Parrotfish.

Parrotfish- It wasn’t that this book was disappointing to my expectations, but I guess I expected it to be ground breaking. Maybe that’s just me and my own experiences. I was hoping to be shocked and while I was to a point it isn’t really the kind of novel I will remember. I must admit I really like that Ellen did her research on Parrotfish and tied it into the novel, it was fascinating, but even Grady explained that she really couldn’t be compared to the fish and it was a little bit of a letdown. There was a connection and anti-climax and then an – oh, okay moment and it moved on.

There was one scene in the book that I won’t spoil, but for those who have read the book or want to you will know it when you read it. It frustrated me so much because the lead up to a vicious attack on Grady’s personality and fizzled to a less dramatic turn of events. It angered me so much because It skipped past potentially amazing character development.

Overall I really enjoyed Parrotfish, It was important for me as a reader, but I don’t think it impacted me in a way it might impact those going through similar struggle to the characters in the novel.

For more information on Gender Dysphoria -


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