Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger; Read: February 2012

How much of yourself do you want to change?

If anything, this book made me quite conscious of my body. Plus the shows I see have characters complaining about their bodies, so they emphasized parts of what this book is about.

While a great number of us goes through the rage of hormones, growth spurts, and the whole circus of adolescence-puberty, a few find themselves having to pass through an added madhouse of crisis.

Parrotfish is about the transformation of a girl named Angela into a boy named Grady.

Frankly, I wouldn’t have bought the book myself. Not even its cover arrested me. That was until my best friend desperately tried to recall what parrotfish do. When he finally remembered that they change sexes, I thought of clown fish. Think Marlin and Nemo. Though sex change never happened in “Finding Nemo,” it was something from the book that made it somehow clear to me: necessity.

Necessity is the key to change. Angela had been undergoing personal turmoil and the only way to ease all that is to make changes.

As with most things, change is easier said than done. Most of us are so comfortable with the old. We like what is familiar. But that is just half of the story. There are people who go through the same routines and circles as we do but feel differently about it all. Some live uneasy lives under their own skin. Either they break through it or die under it.

This is why I find Angela-Grady to be an amazing and quite an engaging character. She-he broke her-his own mold, despite the uncertainty that she-he would face upon declaring the change and what people said and did to hold her-him back. Plus her-his sarcasm, wit, and internal dialogues are quite refreshing.

Most of the other characters are charming themselves. Sometimes even unbelievable, especially Sebastian! Well maybe I do have a friend who is just as warped as he is but in a whole other direction. But I’m not naming names.

One other thing I love about the story: everything Christmas. I come from a country where, once the –ber months start, it’s time to bring out the decorations and begin playing carols. And they only end just before Valentines Day. So the people at the Christmas House are always a great source of comic relief and a reminder of family and friends.

Guess that’s part of key to a successful transformation; it’s always wonderful to know that, even when you experience great change, your family and friends are still there with you. Despite the labor pains that everyone goes through, they’d still be there to welcome you home into their arms with love and acceptance.


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