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Parrotfish Hardcover – July 10, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—As in Hard Love (S & S, 1999), Wittlinger tackles GLBT issues, introducing readers to Grady McNair, formerly known as Angela. This fast read follows Grady through the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas as he comes out as transgendered, faces issues of acceptance and rejection at school and at home, and falls in love with the hottest girl in school. Funny and thought-provoking in turns, the book does suffer from a few structural problems. The narrator's voice is very feminine for somebody who has internally always felt like a boy, and with little effort on his part, Grady ends the book with family approval, new and old friends, a previously forbidden pet, and the end of an embarrassing family holiday tradition. Flaws aside, the book is an excellent resource for building awareness about, and serving the increasing number of, transgendered teens. Helpful resources include Web sites and further-reading material. The lack of similar titles available, except for Julie Ann Peters's Luna (Little, Brown, 2004), and Wittlinger's captivating storytelling ability combine to make this a book that most libraries should stock. Grady eventually decides that he will always straddle the 50 yard line of gender, and the book should help teens be comfortable with their own place on that football field.—Cara von Wrangel Kinsey, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Angela McNair is a boy! Oh, to the rest of the world she's obviously a girl. But the transgendered high-school junior knows that she's a boy. And so, bravely, Angela cuts her hair short, buys boys' clothing, and announces that his name is now Grady and that he is beginning his true new life as a boy. Of course, it's not as simple as that; Grady encounters an array of reactions ranging from outright hostility to loving support. To her credit, Wittlinger has managed to avoid the operatic (no blood is shed, no lives are threatened) but some readers may wonder if--in so doing--she has made things a bit too easy for Grady. His initially bewildered family rallies around him; he finds a champion in a female gym teacher; he loses but then regains a best friend while falling in love with a beautiful, mixed-race girl. Wittlinger, who is exploring new, potentially off-putting ground here (only Julie Anne Peters' Luna, 2004,has dealt with this subject before in such detail), manages to create a story sufficiently nonthreatening to appeal to--and enlighten--a broad range of readers, including those at the lower end of the YA spectrum. She has also done a superb job of untangling the complexities of gender identity and showing the person behind labels like "gender dysphoria." Grady turns out to be a very normal boy who, like every teen, must deal with vexing issues of self-identity. To his credit, he does this with courage and grace, managing to discover not only the "him" in self but, also, the "my." Michael Cart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (July 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416916229
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416916222
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #950,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellen Wittlinger is the author of fifteen YA and middle-grade novels. Her novel Hard Love won both a Printz Honor Award and a Lambda Literary Award. Her books have been on numerous ALA Best Books lists, Bank Street College of Education lists and state award lists. Ellen has won state awards in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Her work has been translated into many other languages including Turkish, Croatian and Korean. She has taught at Emerson College in Boston and in the Simmons College Writing for Children MFA program.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There may be better books than this one, and certainly it won't be the last ever written about a trans man. In a world void of young adult books about trans men, this is a shiny beacon.

Granted, it isn't written by a trans man. There are going to be things wrong with it. I expected that. With this said, it does not present a soap opera tragedy, which is refreshing. It presents a trans man character whose family and friends are supportive - an occurrence which is thankfully becoming more common these days. It provides a model of what a trans man who transitions before graduating high school will behave like and will experience.

Is this realistic for all trans people? Not exactly. It is realistic in presenting a trans man as an actual human being, and one who isn't destined to lifelong gloom. It also provides a realistic example of what happens when people are accepting and supportive of someone who is coming out.

With that said, trans women are not in the picture at all. As far as I remember there are no POC, and there are no non-trans queer characters. The author's information about trans people is correct, which is refreshing.

Note: The character uses an ace bandage, which is a bad practice. Realistically the character's supportive parents should have bought their kid a binder, which is much safer. (Ace bandage can curve chest bones inward, especially a problem for bodies that are still growing.). If you get this for a trans kid, please make sure they know not to use ace bandage.
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Format: Hardcover
Back in the 1980s and part of the 1990s, it was rare to find a gay or lesbian-related YA book with a happy ending. The real lives of gay and lesbian teenagers tended to be pretty depressing, at least until they could leave home and move to a more gay-friendly area.

The YA genre took a while to start writing about transgender (and bisexual, for that matter) teenagers, but by the time they did, America had become a place more accepting of GLBT people. Perfect? No, not by a long shot. But in an age where high schools have gay-straight alliances, newspapers write articles about kids coming out of the closet in middle school, TV shows feature teenage and adult GLBT characters, gay celebrity weddings merit the same huge gossip magazine writeups as straight celebrity weddings, another famous person seems to come out of the closet every month or so, and very few Americans can say they don't know anyone who is openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, is it really that difficult to imagine that at least one teenage FTM kid living in Massachusetts could transition without utter rejection from his family or threats of violence?

I disagree that there's anything unrealistically happy about this book. Grady faces his share of problems, including social ostracization, bullies, family conflicts, and falling for another boy's girlfriend. I also don't think, as some reviewers have said, that there's anything particularly feminine-sounding about Grady's inner monologue. While "Luna" by Julie Anne Peters was also a good book, if I were a transgender teenager I would find "Parrotfish" much more uplifting and reassuring - a sign that maybe I could find a happy life within my existing one.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought this novel was okay. It was well written, as all of Wittlinger's book are. She had wonderful characters and quite a bit of humor. I really liked everyone, especially Sebastian. I hope there's someone in real life just like him! Angela/Grady was very easy to like and understand.

My problem with it is that Grady's transgendered natured seemed to... technical. For me, the book on scratched the surface on how it feels to be transgender. It felt secondhand and distant. And for someone who claims not to like labels, Grady sure loves to use them. "Transgendered" and "Gender Dysphoria" were thrown around true to dictionary definitions.

Basically, the core of this story reads like an afterschool special, not a true-to-life drama and that takes away from the overall quality of the story. I'd recommend Luna over this one. And for a great novel that features a boy named Grady, definitely check out Target by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson!
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Format: Hardcover
Angela Katz-McNair isn't your typical teenage girl. She is, in fact, a boy. Sure, she may have the body parts that science uses to dictate her gender, but, in this case at least, science has gotten it all wrong.

Shortly before Christmas, Angela announces to her family that she's decided to act on the issue of being a boy trapped in the body of a girl. Her name is now Grady. She's cut her hair short and she's wearing boy's clothes. Grady is determined to make the change permanent, and as complete as he possibly can.

He starts by announcing his decisions to his family, which is met with assorted reactions. His dad seems to take the news in stride; after all, Grady was always a tomboy who did "guy stuff" with him anyway. His sister, Laura, is sure that Grady is out to ruin her life, and her high school experience. His younger brother, Charlie, doesn't care all that much, as long as the news doesn't affect his video game playing. And his mother, well, his mother isn't at all sure what to think, how to act, or what to do.

Since Grady is determined, he doesn't just turn into a transgendered person at home. He makes his intentions known at school, too, and you can probably guess what some of the consequences are. Friends are no longer friends; indifferent acquaintances become outright enemies. But there are also bright moments in Grady's new life: he makes a new best friend, Sebastian, who introduces him to the scientific wonder of the parrotfish, an ocean fish who can, and does, change gender. He also finds allies in Russ and Kita, a powerhouse high school super-couple who raise new questions in Grady's mind when he starts falling for Kita himself.

PARROTFISH is a wonderful, emotional novel dealing with the issues of identity and transgenderism.
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