Carol's Reviews > Parrotfish

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
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's review
Mar 23, 2010

really liked it
Read in March, 2010

PARROTFISH is an excellent book to introduce the topic of transgendered people. Grady lived life as a girl until high school when he finally decided he couldn't pretend anymore. He had always felt like a boy. He deals with his family; his father and younger brother accept his decision to transition more easily than his mother and sister. Older sister Laura feels traumatized by all the gossip about her brother at school. Grady loses for a time his best friend Eve who is trying to become friends with the most dangerous girl at school. But he finds a supportive new friend in studious Sebastian who has just written a report about the sex-changing parrotfish. He also falls in love with Kita who is definitely an ally and appreciates that Grady is empathetic and a good listener.

Grady is more androgynous than masculine, and his struggle feels a bit more "clinical" than anguished. But that may have been a result of the engaging humor that Wittlinger uses throughout. She obviously did her homework and covered all the transgender bases: the which-bathroom-to-use problem and the where-to-dress-for-gym problem, all the struggles with changing his name from Angela to Grady, and dealing with school bullies.

I used this book in my college Intro to Gender class just before bringing in a transgendered speaker. The students said it was a good way to learn about what a person "born into the wrong body" might experience.


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