Monday, June 17, 2013

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

I decided to start this book on a whim. I've had a physical copy of it for awhile now and decided to buy the audio of it on Audible not too long ago. Seeing as me and Debi are focusing on LGBT reads this month, I thought it would be a good time to finally read it and I was NOT let down! I love it when I have reading experiences like this. When you pull a book off of the shelves that's sat there forever and you discover that you had a true little treasure sitting there undiscovered for so long. It makes you wonder what other treasures await you on your shelves.

The narrator of this book is a teenage boy named Grady, who is a biological female who we first meet as Angela. Grady is transgendered and the story focuses on his coming out as transgendered to his family who struggle to accept it, and the added twist is that Grady has been home schooled and is now going to public school where he now has to make the transition from girl to boy there as well.

The only other book I've read by Wittlinger is Hard Love, but after reading these two books of her's, I'm learning that she's a genius writer. I fell in love with this book and it's characters from the beginning. The great thing about her characters is that they all have their flaws...they're all less than perfect and this isn't a utopic novel, nor is it a tragedy. It's realistic. And being realistic, it has it's tragic moments and it has it's utopic moments....and it has laugh out loud moments and moments that make you want to cry be that out of anger, frustration, sadness or happiness.

What I loved about this is that Wittlinger created layers of story here. She took the character of Grady and created Grady, the adolescent, then Grady, the high school student, then Grady, the adolescent high school student who's transgendered and going through the coming out process. In other words, this story didn't focus solely on that last category which I think can be the fault of so many lgbt novels. I think it only hurts the lgbt population when we define characters BY their "gayness" or being transgendered. Wittlinger doesn't do that at all.

As you can guess, I really loved this book and highly recommend it. I loved the audio version of it too! It's narrated by Sunil Malhotra and he does such an amazing job narrating it and a great job with all of the characters distinct voices....and he was given amazing secondary characters to voice. I look forward to seeing what else he's narrated. As an aside, while this isn't necessarily a Christmas novel, the events of the book take place around Christmas and I do think it would be a great read around the holidays :) So if you're looking for an LGBT Christmas book, I'd highly recommend that you pick this one up!


Ali said...

I've seen this book at the library and somehow didn't realize it was about a transgender teen. Obviously I didn't read about it very carefully! One more book for my library list.

Kailana said...

I read Hard Love, but that's about it with her. I should read something else at some point...

Jennifer said...

Hi I'm new to your blog but totally got excited when I saw your review for this book. I haven't actually read the novel yet but I loved Hard Love. I read it when I was like 12 but it has stuck with me after all of this time. I remember wanting to read more of Wittlinger's writing after that novel. I will definitely be reading this in the near future! Thanks for the great review and I look forward to reading more reviews of yours!