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Homeless Bird

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  11,240 ratings  ·  1,379 reviews
Like many girls her age in the India of her time period, thirteen-year-old-Koly is getting married. Full of hope and courage, she leaves home forever. But Koly's story takes a terrible turn when in the wake of the ceremony, she discovers she's been horribly misled about exactly what she is marrying into. Her future, it would seem, is lost. Yet this rare young woman, bewild ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 21st 2001 by HarperCollins (first published March 1st 2000)
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Popular Answered Questions
Yesha I believe it takes place in the late 90s, as the book was published in 2000.
Rod Innis The fact that the author has never been to India (if true) does not preclude her from knowing a lot about Indian culture. We have so many resources…moreThe fact that the author has never been to India (if true) does not preclude her from knowing a lot about Indian culture. We have so many resources today that makes research much easier. I have studied Indian culture for many years and it all seems realistic to me. She seems to have done extensive research.(less)
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,240 ratings  ·  1,379 reviews

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Dec 02, 2010 rated it liked it

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 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
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of beautifully written Historical Fiction.
"Koly when you have a husband you well have to do as he tells you. you wont sit and daydream as you do now".

Gloria Whelan-Homeless Bird

Koly’s story will Resonate with anyone of any age so though this may be classified as young adults or children, I would urge anybody of any age to read the book especially people who loves Historical fiction and in particular Native American fiction.

This is one of those books that I’m reluctant to talk about. You can read the description but this book is really a
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
Mohammed Rasheen
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So emotional and touching. This book has been a pageturner. The book is full of death, love, hope, and the cruelness of the world.
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Noah | Dorky Bookworm
Koly is forced into an arranged marriage, with a cruel mother-in-law, a sickly husband, and a spoiled yet sweet sister-in-law. She learns to read, and yearns to flee. But one day, she is no longer a homeless bird.
Feb 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: india
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was ok
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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!
Nyle D
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was a good look in to how life was back when woman were not as important to learn. I thought it was quite boring though i thought and it did not have a very great end. I would rate it smaller than usual but it was an ok book.
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.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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!
Nov 06, 2008 rated it liked it
A great book that talks about a young Indian widow struggling to survive in the corrupt streets of India
Michael Fitzgerald
I felt this was a book of missed opportunities. Despite the unusual setting, so much of the story was superficial, hackneyed, and predictable. While Mrs. Mehta was supposed to be predictable to readers (but not Koly), I saw Raji coming a mile away. It also seemed unnecessarily tailored to modern western readers - arranged marriages are bad and work (even piecework) is better than true devotion to the family and home (even in a non-arranged marriage). You go, girl! Rah rah rah. Bas.

Also, the who
Jiji Tharayil
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I first started reading the book, I was slightly disappointed and thought of giving up after a few pages. Although the story looked promising, and the set up and background seemed raw and beckoning, the writer seemed to be in a hurry to finish the story. The description was too straight, and emotions were described plainly, not doing much justice to the character and her experiences. For a while, I even wondered if I had picked up a children's book.

However, I'm glad I went through further.

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
Jackson Abells
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Homeless Bird is an excellent book which gives an interesting look into Indian culture. While the source of conflict does jump around a lot, it is consistent with what that main problem is -- Koly, the main protagnist, cannot find a home to stay in. The amount of detail in the writing makes the first person perspective feel like the reader is viewing this story directly from Koly's eyes. A lot of that detail is thanks to Gloria Whelan's use of similes in this novel. For example, Koly equates her ...more
David Buhler
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
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Diversity in Young Adult Literature 1 7 Nov 16, 2015 11:54AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Book about a girl in India [s] 4 48 Oct 26, 2014 01:35PM  
BYU-Adolescent Li...: Homeless Bird 1 4 Jun 12, 2014 03:06PM  
Homeless Bird 1 7 Apr 15, 2014 04:49PM  
Is it good? 16 56 Feb 05, 2013 05:06AM  
Hari's Disease 3 35 Nov 02, 2011 01:03PM  

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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