Comments for Parrotfish
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger is about the transitioning of Angela into Grady — female to male. Problems arise at school — the administration doesn't have a clear cut policy in place and there's of course bullying, problems at home — the mother who desperately doesn't want to lose a daughter (even a tomboy one) and problems with friends (over reacting or not knowing how to react).
The title comes from a species of fish that changes its sex. Grady believes in his heart of hearts that he should be male even if his body isn't. He needs, though, to prove to others that his feelings are natural and normal.
While the book would be useful for teens either going through the same thing or even just feeling like fish out of water, the pacing and characterization felt forced. Except for Grady and a sympathetic gym teacher — and perhaps the father's over the top approach to Christmas decorating, the characters are presented at the extremes of both genders. Men are MEN and women are WOMEN.
In this sort of dichotomy, there's nothing for Angela (pre-Grady) to do except to change into Grady. There's no wiggle room, and therefore no way to explore the nuances of gender. As some one who isn't especially feminine and who has friends and family who fall somewhere between the two extremes — I had a hard time relating to Grady or anyone else in the book.
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