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Little Fish

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  361 ratings  ·  69 reviews
In this extraordinary debut novel by the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning story collection A Safe Girl to Love, Wendy Reimer is a thirty-year-old trans woman who comes across evidence that her late grandfather--a devout Mennonite farmer--might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, having other problems at hand, but as she and her ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published April 1st 2018)
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What are you doing with your life if you haven't read this book?? A hard-hitting, beautiful, and thought-provoking novel. Amazing, complex, authentic characterization; Plett isn't afraid to make her characters messy. I was especially astounded at how she dealt with religion in the lives of some characters. She is also really talented at dialogue. I always marvel at how her characters sound like such real people.

It's about a 30-year-old trans woman named Wendy living in Winnipeg, her group of tr
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The main way this book is similar to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is that for the first half you're like "yeah this is pretty good but it's not blowing my mind" and then around the halfway point it takes off and becomes incredible. I don't remember if Order of the Phoenix did this too but Little Fish needed that first (admittedly good, just not as good as the second) half to serve as the foundation on which to build. Now that I am thinking about it, I guess JK Rowling had four previ ...more
Khashayar Mohammadi
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, canadian, lgbtq
I picked up this book and decided to read a page or two to get a feel for it. 40 pages later I was still standing there reading, 250 pages later I had still not broken eye contact with this magnificent book, this absolute gem. The prose is sharp and witty without being too clever. The story flows so naturally and the narrative carries on with such simplicity and ease, letting the reader enjoy every single page. It was a book that made me question how I look at those around me, a book that made m ...more
Morgan M. Page
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had the chance to read this book prior to publication, and I was stunned at the work Casey Plett has produced. It is a truly moving and wonderful novel about family, in many sense of the word. If you don't read it, you'll regret it.
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, can-con
You always had to be on your guard. It didn't matter how often you passed, it could always be taken away. Always. She'd never be little, she'd never be a fish. It could always be taken away.

I know a family who recently went on a trip to China, and as they were walking around Tiananmen Square, local families kept stopping them and motioning for their ten-year-old daughter to pose for pictures with their own children. My friends were amused by this at first, but as it happened over and over, and
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I just loved this. Read in two days. A slice-of-life style narrative -- two months (or so?) in the life of Wendy, a twentysomething trans girl with Mennonite heritage and a single father, part of a closeknit community of trans women in Winnipeg. A lot happens that is significant but the pleasure is in the time spent with this character and this author, who emphasizes community and love on every page.
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Little Fish is hands down the book most intimately reflective of my transfeminine experience of any book I have ever read. This book knows me & knows my complicated interpersonal feelings & hopes & joys & disappointments. This is the book of the decade as far as I'm concerned. I have learned deep things about myself from this book. I have ugly cried once and normal cried twice from this book. I am not like the main character of Little Fish. But this character knows me. I am in he ...more
Jeanne Thornton
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"What kind of world does the core of your brain expect that you, you personally, get to live in? . . . Wendy did still believe she would have love." <3
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canlit, top-10, lgbtqi2s
Prediction: Little Fish will be in my top five 2018 Canadian fiction reads at year-end. I thought this book was just exquisitely written. It is simultaneously honest and sardonic, which turns out is a lovely combination. Or perhaps author Casey Plett just knows how to do it well. I sometimes feel guilty reading books in a day because I know that authors toil over books for what seems like eons... but I couldn't help but rumble my way through this period in Wendy's life in a couple sittings. The ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Hard to describe how I feel about this one. I'm reminded of why I don't tend to like mainstream/general fiction, because the story tends to feel aimless and meandering. There didn't seem to be much plot, more just following the main character around. But, I ended up liking the characters and getting invested in them. I liked Wendy's roommates and seeing their interactions and the upside to a meandering plot was that the characters had a sense of "realness" to them because I spent so much time wa ...more
Nikki Stafford
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I noted in the previous book I reviewed that the protagonist of the book was one of my favourites in a long time. And then I picked up Little Fish, and Wendy burrowed her way into my heart and made me fall in love with another protagonist all over again. This is a gorgeously written book, full of deeply felt raw emotion. Wendy is a transgender woman who grew up in a Mennonite community, and when she gets a phone call out of the blue at her grandmother's funeral with some surprising information a ...more
Sadie Laett-Babcock
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this after having a really deep relationship with Plett's first book is intense. This book is a lot heavier, and harsher. It does a excellent, excellent job at capturing one of my favorite tropes and a truth abt trans life: suffering is a long haul. Winter lasts 8 months. 15 bad things happen in a row, and it's not abt the climax of any one thing you know. I'm spacey rn but u get me. Great book.
Lillian Li
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've also been reeling over Little Fish and it's been almost a month since I finished reading it. Plett is a writer we don't deserve, one who can write into the nooks and crannies of any feeling you can imagine, and some you can't. Little Fish follows Wendy Reimer, a Canadian trans woman who's in her stagnating thirties, and what happens after she finds out her late grandfather, a devout Mennonite, might have been transgender himself. It's also about so much more: the power and limitation of fri ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not sure what to make of this book. The premise in the blurb - Wendy finding out her grandfather might've been trans - sounds interesting, but the book did very little with that storyline. Most of the book was a lot of getting drunk and having sex. I found it very hard to read Wendy's reactions to things, e.g., she'd claim someone seemed nice and fun and I didn't understand why it felt that way to her. Waking up with a hangover in someone's bed not remembering if you had sex or not sounds te ...more
John Elizabeth
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are possibly words somewhere to describe the excellence of this book, but I'm not sure I have access to them. The beautiful way Casey Plett is able to draw us into the world of this book is breathtaking. With everything from religion to sex work, this book encompasses so much and is not afraid to leave us hanging (something I always appreciate). This book is fiction but has absolutely nothing fake in it: all the pain hurts and all the love (and there is a lot here) warms the heart. It's a ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding and devastating. This is a book full of people I've known, slept with, and smiled at across the room. Family is a tenuous thing, and Little Fish finds space for it throughout. I'm not sure what I would've made with this years ago, but now, it's a sad and good ache. I hope Casey keeps writing, and sharing her work with us for years to come. I read this in one go, and it was a wild ride that had me laughing and crying.
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer-and
The world doesn't get to read enough books like this. Little Fish is wise, wry, and full of complex characters with complex emotions and histories trying to find love, show up for each other, and survive.
Melinda Worfolk
3.5 stars.

The protagonist of this novel embodies a voice not often heard in mainstream fiction: a 30 year old trans woman struggling to make a life for herself in a world full of transphobia that ranges from misgendering, to street harassment, to sexual assault.

The book blurb makes it sound like the plot focuses around a revelation that Wendy's devout Mennonite grandfather may have been trans also, but it's really a fairly minor part of the novel. The book mainly deals with Wendy's difficult l
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i'm hosting an event at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on April 29 that features this book, Amber Dawn's Sodom Road Exit and Joshua Whitehead's Jonny Appleseed, so i'm reading ahead.

This novel moved me. I cared very much for the main character and her friends, her true family. In this novel the experiences of trans women: alienation of family members, violence, misgendering, suicide, sex work, poverty, alcoholism, and hormone effects are centered, a rarity in CanLit.

I appreciated th
Maru Garnet
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book during a very long layover in YVR airport, and perhaps a few people noticed "why is that tall woman sobbing in the corner with a book and too many glasses of $10 airport bar wine".

I can't stop recommending this book to people, especially to other 20-30 something women, especially to other Winnipeg women, and most importantly, to other 20-30 something trans women ( who may live in Winnipeg) Little Fish is about how we struggle to love ourselves and our families, and especia
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: not-cis
This book is perfection. It's honest and raw, with characters (and dialogue!) that are so realistic, I felt like I was right there inside the story. Like a silent, unnamed member of this circle of friends. I laughed with these characters, I was angry for them, I felt their grief. It left me thinking more about generational differences, religious differences, our choices in life, and finding ways to be at peace.
Raw and honest. Casey Plett's depiction of dissociation is brilliant - it's really full and feels so accurate. I learnt a lot from her vivid accounts of the inner lives of trans women in the West today and, as before with ASGTL, I love the ease of her writing. I was also really interested in her exploration of Mennonite beliefs and practices, and how various Mennonites in Wendy's life struggle to reconcile these with the realities of her gender.

See shelves for (probably incomplete) content notes
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, queer
Fuck what a wonderful book. I love Wendy and I wish I knew her in real life. I hope she'd like me.
Tessy Consentino
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book!
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
An intriguing story about a trans woman living in Winnipeg. I liked both the story and the characters and thought it was really well-written. Can't wait to read more of Plett's stuff.
Desmond Daly
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wise book. You learn not only about Plett's characters. but how to look at your own life, the choices you make and the friends and family bound up in them.

To me, the writing is so precise and so beautiful that it's almost a physical pleasure to read:

She saw the bartender and the other customers, kids her age, some younger, looking at her and
trying not to look at her. She didn't see anyone she knew, and they all looked so far away,
blinking, distant constellations of humans. She sai
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I've sat on this review for a bit, because I'm still not entirely certain where I stand reading this book.  Hopefully, writing this out will give me some more clarity.

Little Fish is pitched as a story of a thirty year old trans woman, Wendy, who is attempting to make sense of the possibility that her grandfather may have been transgender.  Because of this, I expected the story to focus predominately on this idea and how we, as trans people, probably have people in our family trees that are trans
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction, legbet
It’s funny how I can read a book like this, which is absolutely full of horrible and degrading sex, and be fine with it but when I read a book with a male protagonist who even thinks about fucking a woman I want to knife the author. There is really such a marked difference in how men and women write about sex, with the difference mainly being that women know women are people.

Anyway, this is a stellar book and Wendy is such a good, good, well-written character. I hope she gets with Aileen in the
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer, made-me-cry
read the whole thing in one sitting. as expected, casey plett knocks it out of the fucking park once again. i’m gonna go ahead and call this what it is: the rubyfruit jungle of 2018. breathtaking.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, queer-fic
The second trans story I read this month and I've enjoyed this book more than the previous one I've read.

This is a story about Wendy, a 30 year old trans woman and her life. It's about her group of friends, her community, her relationship with her dad and what it was like coming out to him, about sex work, suicide, about the fear they have for one another, the continuous checking in and making sure everyone is safe and so much more.

I feel like something is missing here and I am not sure what i
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Casey Plett wrote the novel Little Fish, the short story collection A Safe Girl to Love, and co-edited the anthology Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers. She wrote a column on transitioning for McSweeney's Internet Tendency and her reviews and essays have appeared in such venues as The New York Times, Maclean's, The Walrus, and Plenitude.
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“Wendy knew how to deal with looking cis and she knew how to deal with looking trans, but she would never, ever figure out how to be both. How the world could treat her so differently—within days or hours.” 1 likes
“What kind of world does the core of your brain expect that you, you personally get to live in? Wendy wanted to be loved. However easily she might have abandoned or ruined her prospects, Wendy did still believe she would have love.” 0 likes
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