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Parrotfish
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Book of the Month > March Book of the Month - Parrotfish *Spoilers*

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Kaje Harper | 16562 comments *


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Kaje Harper | 16562 comments This month's reading choice is Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger by Ellen Wittlinger. The blurb reads:

Last week I cut my hair, bought some boys' clothes and shoes, wrapped a large ACE bandage around my chest to flatten my fortunately-not-large breasts, and began looking for a new name.

Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl. Her whole life is leading up to the day she decides to become Grady, a guy. While coming out as transgendered feels right to Grady, he isn't prepared for the reaction he gets from everyone else. His mother is upset, his younger sister is mortified, and his best friend, Eve, won't acknowledge him in public. Why can't people just let Grady be himself?

Grady's life is miserable until he finds friends in some unexpected places -- like the school geek, Sebastian, who explains that there is precedent in the natural world (parrotfish change gender when they need to, and the newly male fish are the alpha males), and Kita, a senior who might just be Grady's first love.

From acclaimed writer Ellen Wittlinger, this is the groundbreaking story of one teen's search for self and his struggle for acceptance.


I'm looking forward to reading and discussing this one.


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Kaje Harper | 16562 comments I've marked the thread as open to including spoilers. I hope that will allow people to discuss this without worries, and those who have not yet read the book and wish to avoid spoilers to be forewarned.


message 4: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K (k-polipetl) | 4090 comments I have ordered a copy of Parrotfish (it's not available for Kindle here)... now just have to work out how to fit in time to read it!

Mind you, after I've read it I thought I would pass it to my mother to loan to any of her pupils that might be interested.


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Kaje Harper | 16562 comments K wrote: "I have ordered a copy of Parrotfish (it's not available for Kindle here)... now just have to work out how to fit in time to read it!

Mind you, after I've read it I thought I would pass it to my ..."


Yeah, I'm swamped too, but I really want to read this so I will make the time. How old are your Mom's pupils?


message 6: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K (k-polipetl) | 4090 comments Kaje wrote: "Yeah, I'm swamped too, but I really want to read this so I will make the time. How old are your Mom's pupils?"

I will need some down time to read once the writing starts ... though am having far too much fun with research and planning at the moment :)

Mum's pupils range from 7 to 18... majority are 13 - 15 though


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Kaje Harper | 16562 comments K wrote: "Kaje wrote: "Yeah, I'm swamped too, but I really want to read this so I will make the time. How old are your Mom's pupils?"

I will need some down time to read once the writing starts ... though ..."


It's good for kids that age to be exposed to the positive sides of human diversity. I hope this turns out to be a book you can recommend wholeheartedly.


Samantha Boyette | 53 comments I just ordered this from the library, so I'll be sure to chime in!


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Jo Ramsey (Jo_Ramsey) | 1017 comments Read this book in 2 nights, and the only reason it took me that long was because I had a migraine. It's a really fast read, at least to me.

It's also an excellent book. The author nails the narrator's voice, in my opinion. I knew I was reading about a FtM transgendered teen, but right from the first sentence, I felt like the narrator was male. (Which he is, regardless of what kind of body he's in.) I think the bullying Grady experiences is realistic, though part of me kept thinking that if this was a real high school, there would have been a lot more bullying.

My real sticking point was the ease with which his family accepted it. Yes, they struggled with it, but I felt like they struggled for a token amount of time and then everything was fine. I'll have to reread it at some point and see if I still get that impression, but I felt like there should have been more debate and argument about it, especially from Grady's mother and sister. The only family member's reaction that I found completely believable was Grady's 11-year-old brother, who's depicted as spoiled and somewhat lazy, so the fact that he barely reacted to the news that his older sister was now his older brother seemed to fit with the character.

Loved the supporting characters in this, especially the gym teacher. I question the gym teacher's participation in the reverse prank on the bully (the bully set Grady up for a "prank" that would have humiliated him; Grady, his friends, and the gym teacher found out about the plan and switched things around so the gym teacher ended up being the "victim" of the prank, which actually turned things around onto the bully.) I think when teachers join in student plots like that instead of just, you know, being a teacher and doing something to stop it, they're crossing a line.

But overall, despite the couple of nits I just mentioned, I loved this book. I've passed it along to my 16-year-old, so we'll see what she thinks of it.


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Kaje Harper | 16562 comments Not looking, not looking - just got this from the library so I'll be back as soon as it's read.


message 11: by Jo (new)

Jo Ramsey (Jo_Ramsey) | 1017 comments I didn't go into details...So it's only slightly spoilerish...LOL


Samantha Boyette | 53 comments Can't read anything anyone has posted yet, because I'm not done, but just read the first 9 chapters in one sitting before work. SO GLAD someone picked this book, it is ridiculously good!


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Kaje Harper | 16562 comments Samantha wrote: "Can't read anything anyone has posted yet, because I'm not done, but just read the first 9 chapters in one sitting before work. SO GLAD someone picked this book, it is ridiculously good!"

That's good to hear. I'm on a trip and didn't bring it because it's a library book, but I'm looking forward to it.


Samantha Boyette | 53 comments I finished it last night, it was SO good. About to go write up a review of it.


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Kaje Harper | 16562 comments I finally finished this book. The time it took me to read it was due to my busy life, not the book. Because I really liked this one. It was well written, poignant and funny in just the right combination.

The ending was laugh-out-loud funny and a little sweet. Grady is a wonderful character. I wish every trans* teen had some of the support characters Grady had, because the crap he went through is all too real. The book shows again how one sympathetic teacher made an enormous difference in Grady's ability to navigate the sometimes hostile world of high-school.

This book is worth a read for everyone who just likes good YA, but especially for those who want to continue to understand gender issues and trans* kids. This is a personal story, very little lecturing or explaining. Not every trans kid will feel the way Grady does. But it rang true, and I bet many of them do. It illuminates one more facet in the complex picture of how a kid whose body gender does not fit his brain might deal with the world. As well as just being a darned good story (love the rotting teddybears.) Recommended.


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Parrotfish (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Ellen Wittlinger (other topics)