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Parrotfish Paperback – October 6, 2015
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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This is the story of Angela as she takes the first steps to becoming a boy named Grady. While this change was met by Grady's friends and family with variations on shock, dismay, confusion, disgust, empathy, kindness, understanding and even apathy, the whole story just seemed to skim the surface of many of a transgender teen's issues.
The first few chapters broke my heart as Grady deals with generally negative reactions of family, teachers, friends and kids at school. I braced myself expecting a tumultuous emotional journey towards acceptance but *spoiler* even though some fairly awful things almost happened, nothing bad actually did happen and the entire story wraps up all very neat and nicely with a cutesie happy-ever-after kind of feel to it *end spoiler* I just didn't buy the ending and the ease with which the resolution was reached.
This book almost seemed to make light of transgender issues. Where was the psychologist or at very least a counselor? Why didn't Grady's parents take him to see a physician? Fairly standard practices for someone considering changing their gender. The parents seemed oddly detached; the bigger, darker issues at hand skirted if not brushed off altogether, and this frustrated me.
To be honest, I was more interested in Danya, what made her such a spiteful bully, why was she so afraid of her parents? The more intriguing story seemed to lie with her and yet she's painted as a pretty one dimensional antagonist.
The prose is pleasant and there are a few metaphors such as the titular parrotfish comparison that manage to inject a little more substance into this story. Even so, reading parrotfish felt a bit like eating a carrot-cake cupcake by starting with the frosting: everything was nice and sweet if slightly tangy, but I couldn't wait to get to the rich, nutty, spicy substance - sadly, all I got was frosting when what I really wanted was the cake.
The roles of the parents are particularly well portrayed. They need time to cope with losing a daughter and gaining a son, and their behavior during this time is described realistically. Naturally everyone's experience is different, but at least this story isn't completely told through rose glasses.
Most recent customer reviews
Sweet. I liked reading about Grady’s friends, family, classmates, teachers, and his relationships with them.Read more
My only gripe with it, at all, was that sometimes the pacing was a bit sluggish, and too many details were crammed into scenes that...Read more