Book: Homeless Bird

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Homeless Bird

Author: Gloria Whelan
Publisher: HarperCollins

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 takes an unexpected turn, and she finds herself alone in a strange city of white-sari-clad windows. Her only choice seems to be to shed her name and her future and join the hopeless hordes who chant for food.

Even then, cast out in a current of time-worn tradition, this rare young woman sets out to forge her own exceptional future. And a life, like a beautiful tapestry, comes together for Koly— one stitch at a time.


“What if I don’t like him?”
“Of course you will like him.”
“But what if I don’t?”
Maa impatiently slapped at a fly. “Then you must learn to like him.”

But Koly never gets a chance to find out if she does care for her intended groom. Married and promptly widowed at 13, Koly finds herself in the grim position of being cast out by a society that has no place for girls like her. With a seemingly hopeless future in India, this courageous and spirited young woman sets out to forge her own destiny. Through perseverance, resourcefulness, and sheer luck, she manages not only to find a niche for herself, but even to find happiness again.

Gloria Whelan’s tale of a remarkable girl in an extraordinary situation will linger with the reader long after the last page is read. The shaping of Koly’s life, as anyone’s, is in her own hands, as well as the hands of the society in which she lives. Her ability to express herself—and ultimately support herself—with her exceptional skill in embroidery is a symbol of the creative ingenuity that will serve her well throughout her tribulations. (Ages 8 and older) —Emilie Coulter

Barnes and Noble

In India, it’s not so strange for a girl Koly’s age to be getting married—even if she is only 13. She leaves home forever full of courage and hope…until she discovers there’s been a terrible mistake. The husband chosen for her is too young, and he’s very ill. And as tradition dictates, it’s too late to turn back. Koly’s future, it would seem, is lost.

Alive with the crush of marketplace crowds, the thick smell of funeral garlands, the cooling rush of the holy river Ganges, and the sting of injustice as a girl’s life is forsaken, master storyteller Gloria Whelan transports readers into the heart of a gripping tale of hope. Here is the story of one rare woman who, standing against the powerful current of tradition, discovers her own remarkable future. A National Book Award winner.

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