But you can only lie about who you are for so long without going crazy.
My “P” title for the A~Z reading challenge was Ellen Wittlinger's Parrotfish. Like Girl Walking Backwards, Parrotfish is on the San Francisco Public Library's recommended reading list for lgbtq teens. It's also on the 2008 ALA Rainbow List and 2008 NYPL Books for the Teen Age list (pdf). In all honesty, while that's all great stuff, it was Colleen Mondor's July 2007 Bookslut review that made me really want to read Parrotfish.
Unfortunately, Mondor's review was so well written that I don't know what I can write here that won't be overly repetitive or trite.
Parrotfish tells the story of teenager Grady McNair, born Angela, who is brave enough to come out as transgendered in the middle of the school year. Life doesn't go perfectly smoothly for Grady once he outs himself to family and school. He loses his best friend, is subject to harassment, and is dismissed out of hand by adults in positions to support and protect him.
That said, Parrotfish is far from being a doom and gloom coming of age story. Instead, it's actually rather sweet and funny with lots of interesting side characters. While Grady does suffer a bit, in the end he finds true friendship and is accepted by the people who matter most.
And now I've made the novel sound terribly smaltzy ...
Just go read it, okay?
Previously, the only other young adult novel I had read on identity and transgenderism was Julie Anne Peter's Luna, in which a girl was born in the body of a boy. I have to say that both novels are wonderful and come highly recommended.
If you're interested in knowing more about transgenderism, Wittlinger has also included interesting lists of references and resources at the back of Parrotfish.
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon & Schuster, 2007)