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Homeless Bird

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  9,729 Ratings  ·  1,164 Reviews
Leaving Home...forever. Like many girls her age in India, thirteen-year-old Koly is getting married. When she discovers that the husband her parents have chosen for her is sickly boy with wicked parents, Koly wishes she could flee. According to tradition, though, she has no choice. On her wedding day, Koly's fate is sealed. In the wake of her marriage, however, Koly's life ...more
Published March 1st 2000 by HarperCollins
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Popular Answered Questions

Yesha I believe it takes place in the late 90s, as the book was published in 2000.
Yesha Well, this author has never been to India. So take it with a grain of salt.
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Community Reviews

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please don't arrange my marriage.

and if you must, please don't marry me off to some sickly bitchy thing who will soon die and trap me in my inlaws' house where i will be a burden and where they will treat me like a servant but i won't have anywhere else to go until they in turn ditch me in some creepy city where discarded widows try to make a go of it.

just don't do it.
it is the worst.

this book is pretty good, but my warrior-liberated-woman parts gag when confronted with these types of situation
Pouting Always
Mar 28, 2017 Pouting Always rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know this book is probably for like middle schoolers but I loved it. Koly's parents marry her off without seeing the groom and she ends up married to a sick boy whose parents needed the dowry money for his treatment. It all works out as well as you'd expect but eventually she rebuilds her life. I honestly felt so upset for Koly and the way she was treated through out the book. I loved the writing and the narrative and the details the author added only pulled me in to the story more. I can not ...more
Mohammed Rasheen
a simple short book with a story which will stay in my mind for long, loved this book to the very end. it works as a story of human persistence but very little about Indian Culture. very motivating and satisfying. wish this book was bit longer.
rating 4.5
Gloria Whelan's Homeless Bird is a pleasant enough story. Predictable and pleasant. It is a fast read and Koly is a likable protagonist.

But shortly after beginning the book I stopped to research the author. As I suspected after my first few pages of reading, Whelan herself is neither Indian or of Indian ancestry and has never traveled to India. I believe that it IS possible for writers to write successfully outside of their own experiences, but I am EXTREMELY wary of authors who attempt to write
Sep 12, 2008 Lanier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So there I was in an English Department meeting and Tasche says, "You really should've read this book," since it was on the incoming Freshmen's Summer Reading list. I sat there dumbfounded, not realizing it was on their reading list nor that I had actually read it three or four years ago. It's not that it's a nondescript book, quite the opposite, but you know how it is sometimes when you've zipped through so many short-short good reads and you forget one because a more powerful novel by Rabindra ...more
Feb 12, 2016 dianne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-asia
This YA story of an arranged marriage between a girl (13) and a rickety family that only wants her dowry so they can take the almost dead "groom" to Varanasi to be saved by Mama Ganges. Didn't work and she's stuck in this horrible situation waiting on the evil mother in law hand and foot, without even the thought of consummation to remember - oh, yeah she's 13, that's a blessing. This well written story varies significantly from the usual they married me off to an evil/old/abusive/gay/perverted/ ...more
Izcalli Gamez
Oct 30, 2015 Izcalli Gamez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be honest I read this book because one of my teachers said I had to or they'd give me a red slip for being unprepared. So I read it and this book was amazing. This book is realistic-fiction.
A 13 year old girl named Koly needs to get married. When she finally does her new husband falls deadly ill. meanwhile the mother n' law hates her. Soon koly falls to be a Widow and so does her mother n' law suprisingly. Her new mother then takes her and koly to a city a very famous city. A city known for
Angela Kidd Shinozaki
This is such an inspiring story of finding home. I could not put it down until I finished it. I've met Gloria Whelan, who lives in MI, and she's a wonderful lady. It's fascinating that she can weave such seamless tales of different places and cultures using her own research and imagination. I was amazed to learn what happens to widows in parts of India, left to starve, homeless and often penniless. It's shameless and cruel. But the real heart of the story is in the innocent and somewhat naïve bu ...more
Jun 05, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A coming of age story of a different sort. Koly is married off to a boy she's never met--a boy who is ill and she learns the only reason she was married to him was so his parents could gain the dowry to pay for his medical care. Soon Koly is widowed and must face a difficult life against the difficult traditions of her culture. Beautiful and tragic. Grades 4 - 7.

From VOYA:
"Despite the obvious elements of fairy tale—cruel mother-in-law, attractive young male coming to the rescue—the book does not
Dec 07, 2016 Cole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't that good but it was ok
La Coccinelle
This is the type of story I usually end up liking. I find it fascinating to read about other places and cultures. While this book definitely had strong settings and a good backdrop of cultural traditions, it wasn't as engaging or as complex as I wanted it to be.

Please, dear author, I want some more...

I've read a couple of books now that are set in present-day India (well, this one is sort of current; it was published in 2000, so while we do get glimpses of some modern-day features, it does see
(B) Archer at KIPP
Feb 14, 2008 (B) Archer at KIPP rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever felt lonely before
Recommended to (B) Archer by: Ana Lia Diego
Shelves: girls-have-read

Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelanis about a girl named Koly who lives in a poor village in India; and she is 13 years old and she has to get married so that the food in her house could go around. So they marry her off to a "16 year old", but in reality he is 13 years old and he is very sick. Her mother-in-law is very cruel to her because she does not want her to see her husband, they want to take Hari (her husband) to "the Holy Ganges" to heal him.Turns out that Hari dies and Koly has to live with
Jul 29, 2009 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
After reading Homeless Bird I felt like sighing. Not because I was relieved it was over, no just the opposite. I've read a lot of boring and mediocre books lately, it was a relief to finally read a good one. Homeless Bird wasn't just good, it was a wonderful, deeply moving novel that kept me engrossed from begining to end. The main character is Koly, a thirteen-year-old girl living in India. Her parents are looking for a husband for her, who's family will take her in despite her small dowry. Kol ...more
The other John
This is a tale of a young girl from a traditional Indian family, Koly, who is subjected to an arranged marriage. (What date this story is set, I don't know. I'm assuming it's a modern day setting as the book mentions color photographs and computers) As you might guess from the title, it doesn't quite work out very well. How it doesn't work out, I won't reveal. It was an interesting tale, well worth checking out. The characters are done quite well, with a bit of depth to them. Koly especially is ...more
What a precious story! It was short but lacking nothing, I loved it! The journey of a young girl in India whose life is changed forever when her arranged marriage comes with a heartbreaking surprise. Whelan's writing has a beautiful simplicity, I could almost taste the spicy samosas and smell the bright orange marigolds in the streets. She made traditional Indian society come to life through her descriptions. I loved the way I couldn't predict what would happen from one point to the next, and th ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 30, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 6th and 7th graders
Recommended to Emily by: my teacher
This story is a Hindu story about a girl who is told she is getting married at the age of 13. Then later she finds out the person she is supposed to get married to only wanted to get married for the dowry (Hindu term for gift to get married to the person, in other words, she had to give the family of the man she was marrying a gift, like money to marry him) so they can pay for him to go to The Ganges and get healed because he is very ill. The story gets worse and worse for Koly (main character) ...more
Nov 03, 2012 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adolescent-lit
Homeless Bird is the first book in a long time that I could not put down once I started reading it! It is so good! Very well written, vivid word pictures made me feel like I could see the settings and heard the sounds, like I was getting to know the characters. I loved the ending. I know that not all books can have happy endings, but I love it when they do, so touching. Made me think of Cinderella. She deserved to find happiness after going through so much sorrow! Loved it!
Dec 28, 2010 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2011
Literary excellence. Winner for a reason.
So incredible to see what so many young girls go through there. How many marriages have been made the same way? Millions? Billions? So much unhappiness there and yet somehow she was saved by love.
Loved it, a must read!
Ann the Cynic
Homeless Bird is set in India. The main character is married at 13. The story is sad, but it has a beautiful ending and remains to be one of my favorites.

It has a middle school reading level, which is about how old I was when I read it the first time.
Nov 06, 2008 Muyiwa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book that talks about a young Indian widow struggling to survive in the corrupt streets of India
Apr 10, 2017 cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ingatkan aku, saat aku mulai mengeluh ttg apa saja, ttg betapa banyak keberkahan dan keberuntungan yg kunikmati setiap harinya. Berbeda dgn Koly, tokoh utama dalam novel ini, yg dibesarkan tanpa makan yg cukup dan pendidikan yg layak. Menjadi janda dalam usia belia, dibuang dan tersia-sia. Duuh...

Meski demikian, Koly ini jenis gadis kuat yg tak menyerah pada keadaan. Dia tahu kapan untuk mengambang mengikuti arus, dan kapan harus melawan. Ia juga menemukan celah untuk terus berusaha maju, belaj
The Reading Countess
The majority of the book is sad, full of terrible twists of fate and caused by the custom-laden culture of India. I knew/know little about the Hindu traditions and learned quite a bit. While some might view HOMELESS BIRD as too simple of a story to tell such a complex tale of cultures steeped in tradition, I do think this would make a great intro to younger readers. There is much to discuss, and it would make a great lit circle book. Fair warning: marijuana is mentioned at a party and a provocat ...more
David Buhler
Jun 25, 2017 David Buhler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, anthropology
This book illuminates the customs and way of life in India with light that is both bright and soft as twilight as it and tells the story of a of a girl married to a sick husband. Soon she is a widow. Her adventures lead to city life and finally to a peaceful country life. It ends there before we can read of her new home in the peaceful countryside.
Margaret Harman
Mar 21, 2017 Margaret Harman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have really loved this book. It is placed in India and moves around from many different poor places. I must say it is very sad and a hard book to read but is still amazing. It is not that long and you can read it quickly. I have really enjoyed this book. I rate it like a four and a half.
Jared Irving
Jun 08, 2017 Jared Irving rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was really good i personally enjoyed it
May 22, 2017 Clare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a heart-rending book that concludes with a satisfyingly beautiful ending.
Jan 16, 2009 Linmo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Explanation of Rating: Generally, I liked the plot of the story that described about a young widow who was abandoned by her mother-in-law. The plot attracted me because I could not expect what would happen to her next. In fact, I was interested in her life before she became a widow, because I could learn about Indian weddings and different livelihoods in India. However, learning about her life after she became a widow was also a great way to learn about India and worthwhile to read.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 22, 2014 Alluna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ada saat-saat dimana aku merasa beruntung sekali terlahir sebagai seorang perempuan di keluargaku dan di Indonesia. Pertama adalah saat aku mendengar berita tentang larangan menyetir mobil untuk wanita di Saudi, yang kedua adalah saat aku mengernyitkan dahi ketika mengetahui peraturan-peraturan yg katanya syar'i yang diterapkan kepada perempuan-perempuan muslim di Aceh sana, dan yang ketiga adalah ketika aku membaca berita tentang Malala. seorang gadis cilik yang memperjuangkan keinginannya untu ...more
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Homeless Bird 1 7 Apr 15, 2014 04:49PM  
Is it good? 16 55 Feb 05, 2013 05:06AM  
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Gloria Whelan is the best-selling author of many novels for young readers, including Homeless Bird, winner of the National Book Award; Friutlands: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect; Angel on the Square and its companion, The Impossible Journey; Once on this Island, winner of the Great Lakes Book Award; Farewell to the Island; and Return to the Island. She lives with her husband, Joseph, in the woods ...more
More about Gloria Whelan...

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