Saturday, August 30, 2014

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger...

Title- Parrotfish.
Author- Ellen Wittlinger.
Publish date- 2007.
Publisher- Simon and Schuster.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
There's a teenager. She's decided to become a he. There is the reaction of family. School mates. Peers. There is true love. There is truth, horrifying and sweet, and all of it comes together to make a very interesting story.

What I thought:
Parrotfish, oh Parrotfish. This was a fantastic read for me because of the issue of being transgendered and the reaction by others that it tackled, ad it did offer up some information that was new to me, but on the other side of things it wasn't a fantastic read in general. I needed it, and I'm really glad I had the chance to read it, and I did quite enjoy it, but it had it's problems and I didn't think the plot itself- Grady's coming out not being the sole focus of the story- was quite so brilliant as some other aspects were or had the potential to be.

When Angela announces to her family that she doesn't want to be Angela anymore, they react in a mixture of ways- denial, anger, in a self-centered way, with awkwardness- and whilst I have little doubt that these are steps gone through and emotions felt by many, I still found it slightly grating and unfair on Grady's behalf.

My main, standing up and waving a red, angry flag issue with Parrotfish is the way it's characters, Grady most notably, are a touch on the hypocritical side. A big part of Grady's anguish in the novel is the refusal of peers and family to accept him as Grady and the way people just keep calling him Angela, and yet he goes after a school bully-esq girl and it's like a mission to take her down. I don't remember if it's directly or indirectly, but Grady, I believe- or someone in his immediate companion group- calls her a slut and it's all cheering and fantastic. Way to go!
Stand up to the bully and call them cruel names because of how they dress and be mean rigjt back at em. Hmm...

I also struggled with the christmas production element of the story, when the family, every year, dress up and put on a christmas show in their front window. No one but their father enjoys it remotely, and it becomes a "shut it down" issue. The way it was done felt more hurtful than tactful, and a lot of the amusement was lost on me.

Rating: Hmm...
Overall, it had hmm elements and great moments, a pretty honest portrayal and some nastiness, but I quite enjoyed it. I did.


  1. Hmm, not sure how I'd react to Parrotfish (I don't really understand the title either, but I might just be out of the loop). Honestly, hearing that Grady is a hypocrite already grates on my nerves a little. I can truly understand the family's reaction, and possibly understand the hypocrisy a little (it's highschool, people tend to do/say things they regret), yet this is a book and the message it sends to its readers is not nice. And the weird christmas production is a little odd to me. Not sure I would pick up this book, but I'm glad it raised and touched on the issue of transgenders in society. Brilliant review Romi, thank you for you honesty xx

    1. A Parrotfish is a kind of fish that changes it's gender as it needs to, and it was bought up alongside Grady's change from girl to boy by a boy, who she became friends with, at her school. I really liked finding out about that fish a little more, though honestly it was only mentioned in brief two or three times.
      I definitely don't think it would work for everyone, and if I had been in a different place when I read it it would likely have irritated me more than it did- a lot more- but I'm glad I read it.
      Thank you so much, Joy! That's so lovely of you! xx

  2. Sounds like an intriguing concept, sorry it didn't work out for you.


    1. Well it did work out, probably 50/50- some parts I loved, some parts not so much. But yes, it was an excellent reading- the story was a little *sudden* at times, but very enjoyable, and his reading added so much to it!


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