Review: Ellen Wittlinger – Parrotfish

Ellen Wittlinger
Angela has become Grady. It hasn’t been an overnight decision, she’s known she’s a he for quite some time. The rest of the world has trouble adapting though, particularly his Jewish mother and ex-bestfriend Eve.
Parrotfish is a well written, thoroughly enjoyable teenage novel in the LBQT spectrum. Grady is an endearing character who will draw you into his story and make you feel along with him very nicely.
While some of the characters felt like placeholders (such as Grady’s dad, and Sebastian’s mother), the progression of other minor characters such as Sebastian himself and Eve were genuine. I liked the character of Kita, even if I felt that her reaction (and poor Grady’s reaction to her) was perhaps a little too over the top in terms of how accepting she was right away.
I felt that Parrotfish romanticized the truths of coming out as transgender a little bit. The fact that there was hardly any bullying, other than Danya and the glass of milk seemed hard to believe. Not that they weren’t hardships, and Grady really could have suffered if not for his friends, but just everything seemed a little too easy.
I enjoyed the subplot of the Christmas cheer. It’s hard to believe that so much can be packed into a novel from Thanksgiving to Christmas. If anything, I wished that the novel was a little longer – I wanted to know what Grady’s long term plans were.
I loved the analogy of gender being like a football field, with a continuum of gender. Some people aren’t girly girls, but they aren’t guys either. I’m probably somewhere on the middle of this genderfield too – I’m a girl, but I couldn’t tell you why I was one.
With a friend transitioning in the other direction (MtF) I felt like it was high time I got into the transgender set of literature. I’m so glad I picked this novel as my first real foray into it.

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