- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 - 9
- Lexile Measure: 790 (What's this?)
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (October 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1481468103
- ISBN-13: 978-1481468107
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Parrotfish Paperback – October 6, 2015
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"Peopled with wonderfully wacky characters and scenes, this narrative snaps and crackles with wit, even while it touches the spirit of the sensitive reader. Wittlinger scores another success with this highly recommended novel."--"VOYA"
"A compelling and richly detailed story."--"The BCCB"
"The author demonstrates well the complexity faced by transgendered people and makes the teen's frustration with having to "fit into a category" fully apparent."--"Publishers Weekly"
"Wittlinger's writing skill will help YA readers understand transgender issues, and those readers will be entertained and moved as they read."--"KLIATT"
"A thought-provoking discussion of gender roles, gender identity, and the influence of nature, nurture, and social construction on both."--"The Horn Book Magazine"
A thought-provoking discussion of gender roles, gender identity, and the influence of nature, nurture, and social construction on both. "The Horn Book Magazine"
A compelling and richly detailed story. "The BCCB"
Peopled with wonderfully wacky characters and scenes, this narrative snaps and crackles with wit, even while it touches the spirit of the sensitive reader. Wittlinger scores another success with this highly recommended novel. "VOYA"
Wittlinger s writing skill will help YA readers understand transgender issues, and those readers will be entertained and moved as they read. "KLIATT"
The author demonstrates well the complexity faced by transgendered people and makes the teen s frustration with having to fit into a category fully apparent. "Publishers Weekly"
About the Author
Ellen Wittlinger is the critically acclaimed author of the teen novels Parrotfish, Blind Faith, Sandpiper, Heart on My Sleeve, Zigzag, and Hard Love (an American Library Association Michael L. Printz Honor Book and a Lambda Literary Award winner), and its sequel Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story. She has a bachelor’s degree from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and an MFA from the University of Iowa. A former children’s librarian, she lives with her husband in Haydenville, Massachusetts.
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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 seemed ancillary to the plot.
But Grady, he's amazing.
From the very beginning, you can sense that Grady is a brave soul. He has decided, in high school, to transition to male and defy what his principals (and several teachers), classmates, siblings, and family think about the situation. He puts himself through mental and physical agony, so he can be mentally at peace, and it is an incredible look into the brutal battle that transgender individuals are forced to face, whether they like it or not.
Some stars of the show are Kita (the crush), Sebastian (who may be the cutest character I have ever read on the planet...seriously...I want him to be real so we can hang out/I can adopt him), and the PE teacher who goes to bat for Grady in a HUGE way.
The end is beautifully written including an obvious message to the reader, "Sometimes it's hard to remember that by tomorrow or next week or at least next year, the stuff that seems so awful today might actually be funny. That what makes you miserable today will alter on in life be a good story to tell your friends. Why does that happen? I don't know. Things change. People change. We spend a long time trying to figure out how to act like ourselves, and then, if we're lucky, we finally figure out that being ourselves has nothing to do with acting" (287).
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.