Amy Simonson's Reviews > Homeless Bird

Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
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's review
Mar 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: literature-for-adolescents
Read in March, 2012

Homeless Bird made me think. That's quite simple, but my first reaction to writing a review of Gloria Whelan's book. I ended up reading almost 90% of the book in one morning after deciding that these adolescent literature books need to be given attention and cranial power to digest. When I was done reading this book, I talked with my cousin Emily about her trip to India and her perspective on youth marriage. From what she said, and what I've heard of India from family friends, the stories seemed pretty accurate, as sad as that seems when considering the little life that Hindi women lead.
Interestingly enough, my philosophy class had been discussing Hinduism the week before spring break, so I was able to appreciate Koly's plight a little more, imagining the devastation of her husband dying just days after their young marriage. I was frustrated by the bridegroom's family and their extortion of Koly, but their motivations were well mapped out.
Basically, I really appreciated the dynamic characters in this book and how Koly was able to move on to a better life after submitting herself to long hours of work, my appreciation for Whelan was increased. The characters were sympathetic, and yet realistic. The story draws the reader in without overdramatizing situations. There were no dramatic tears, thank goodness, to deter less emotional readers from relating to the characters.
As with every book we've read thus far, I've come to realize that adolescent fiction has few boundaries. The description of Koly's abuse by her mother-in-law was not idyllic at all. Further, it could be a weird appreciation, but I value how Whelan did not make Koly entirely logical and grown up. Her selfishness, though understandable, makes her more realistic and leaves her room to grow.
In regards to where I found God in this book, I found Him amidst pages of untruth. Krishna and other Hindi gods show the wickedness and such that God could display, though He doesn't. Women are so undervalued in Hindu culture, which just highlighted the love God has for all of His children in Christianity. Koly's story ended with hope, echoing how situations can change. It's a nice change, realistic because of the pain, but somehow believable because no matter how Koly may have reacted differently than we might think she should have, we still want her situation to improve which Wheland does excellently.

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