Do you ever feel trapped, like you can’t do anything you want? In Catherine, Called Birdy, this is exactly how the main character, Catherine, felt. The story took place in medieval Europe, where most marriages were arranged by the parents of both sides. However, some peasants were allowed to chose who they married, and Catherine thought that was unfair. Who knows what kind of suitor her beastly father will choose?
Throughout the story, Catherine kept a journal of her daily activities. At one point, she visited her brother in a monastery and was jealous that he was allowed to work away from home while she must stay home and do lady-like tasks. She felt the same way when her uncle visited and told stories about his crusades. But whenever she tried to have an “adventure” or not act like a proper lady, she got punished. What a dilemma…
Things got worse when suitors started visiting their manor to arrange her marriage. During these occurrences, Catherine tried to make herself as unlikable as possible. She seemed to get her wish, because for some reason or another, each marriage proposal didn’t work out. But one day, Catherine’s father decided she must wed. And she must wed the worst of the suitors yet: Shaggy-Beard, or so she called him.
It appeared she was running out of ways to get out of this predicament. By using the silver from his gift to her, she consented to marrying him. Will she succeed in living the life she wants or the life her father wants for her?
I rate this novel a 9 out of 10 and would definitely recommend it to others. It won the 1995 Newbery Honor Award, and I’m not surprised because of the rich details and engaging storyline of medieval life. I am interested in reading other books by Karen Cushman and would suggest others do the same.
-Leila S., 7th Grade