Have you ever read a book and thought, "This has so much potential, but..." Or maybe you spoke those words aloud to a friend. In any case, you felt the book was capable of so much more, but, for you, it just didn't live up to being all it could be. Gloria Whelan's YA book Homeless Bird was one such book for me.
I recently read Homeless Bird for an upcoming library program.
Spoiler-Free Review: The story centers on Koly, a teen girl in India who is forced into an arranged marriage. The husband dies shortly after the wedding and Koly suffers several hardships and learns some harsh lessons before her life finally sorts itself out.
To be honest, Homeless Bird is not the sort of book I'd pick up on my own and, had I not been required to read it, I very likely would have left it on the shelf in favor of something else. But it sounded kind of interesting. Also, it was a past National Book Award winner, so it must have some merit. Right? And BONUS! it was short (less than 200 pages). So I dove into it with high hopes that I would find book love in an unexpected place.
Unfortunately that was not to be. For all the drama and excitement that happened in such a short number of pages, I found Homeless Bird to be kind of, well...dull. Koly's first person narration felt distant and distracted. She could have been reciting a shopping list rather than tell of all the hardships she went through. At no point did I feel any connection to her character. Also, the ending wrapped up a bit to neatly. Throughout the whole book, I had the impression the author just wasn't feeling the story at all. It was almost like she was challenged to write the book rather than felt inspired to do so. This made me sad, because I felt the story could have been so much more.
The verdict: Sadly, I can't really recommend this book. But at least I can check this required read off my list, but that's about all I can say. If you're looking for a book about teenagers of Indian culture, there are so many better options out there! I recommend picking one of those instead.