Book Review: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

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"Corpus Bones! I utterly loathe my life."

Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man--any rich man, no matter how awful.

But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call--by far the oldest, ugliest, most revolting suitor of them all.

Unfortunately, he is also the richest.

Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannered, piglike lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father?

Deus! Not if Catherine has anything to say about it!

Hmm. This is more of a middle-grade novel. It was... cute, I guess. Just okay, you know? A 3-stars-out-of-5 thing. Not bad, not good.

So I read this for school. The main character, Catherine, is kind of strange. She seems to hate her father without ever giving him a chance, which annoyed me because it made her father incredibly one-dimensional, and at a lot of points her as well.

I know that many reviews of this book talk about how Catherine was "a feminist before her time", but it really just seems like she doesn't want to get married because the suitors are odious. She has no particular ideals about campaigning for women, particularly. Throughout the novel, she uses phrases like "when I get married" and such things.

The voice that the novel was narrated in was amusing... at the beginning. As I read more and more, I found the constant use of "Deus!" or "Corpus bones!" or "God's thumbs!" greatly irritating. It honestly seemed like the author was trying much, much too hard to make the book educational rather than just letting the plot flow. And I don't know about everyone else, but I don't like having to read through a bunch of educational nonsense.

The book had its nice moments, but the names threw me off, the voice threw me off, the main character especially threw me off, and the cover is really ugly (I mean, seriously). So while I'm not sure how to justify the Newbery Honor that it has, I would recommend this for younger readers looking for a quick, lighthearted historical fiction book.
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