Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Parrotfish - by Ellen Wittlinger
I had a hard time decided how to rate this book. On the one hand, I really like that Wittlinger chose to write about a FTM transgender teen who is proud of his identity and open about it. On the other hand, the writing was mediocre and some of the characters were pretty shallow. In the end I decided to settle for two paws.
Grady, formerly Angela, feels that coming out is the right decision. Overall he's glad he did, but he didn't expect how his friends and family would react. Especially his best friend Eve, who completely ignores him at school and when she does talk to him, keeps calling him Angela.
Life at school also becomes harder. Other students stare at Grady in the hallway, he doesn't have any friends since Eve stopped talking to him, and most of his teachers are not supportive at all. Grady starts to feel overwhelmed until he finds an unexpected ally in the P.E. coach Ms. Unger and a new friend, Sebastian. These two characters really made the book for me because they are supportive, but also actually have some personality.
Grady also realizes he has feelings for Kita, but I think this is one of the weaker plot lines. All we know about Kita is that she is half African American, half Japanese, and apparently awesome. Oh, and she has a boyfriend, but because they are fighting Sebastian encourages Grady to make a move. This was one of the few times I really didn't like Sebastian or Grady for going along with him.
Even with some of the troubles Grady faces, this doesn't seem like a very realistic portrayal of what transgender teens have to face when they come out. But despite this, as well as some lackluster characters and some truly cheesy dialogue, Parrotfish was still an enjoyable book. Especially for a younger audience, this is a nice, light read that also happens to have a transgender teen as the protagonist.
I will be using Parrotfish for the young adult category in the reading challenge from summerreadingonline.blogspot.com and this is my seventh book of the summer.