FICTION

Like a Bird

Unnamed. Sept. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781951213091. $26.
COPY ISBN
DEBUT In her extraordinary first novel, Róisín exposes the damaging effects of colorism through the Chatterjee family, who unconsciously pit their golden child, light-skinned, confident Alyssa, against Taylia, dark and brooding like her immigrant father and an unwelcome reminder of his roots in Calcutta. Crippled by low self-esteem and a poor body image, Taylia withdraws into her studies, hiding behind baggy, gender-neutral clothing, while her sister flaunts her sexuality and flouts her father’s strict moral code. After Alyssa’s shocking death, Taylia yearns finally to be seen by her grieving family, but rather than support her in the aftermath of a horrific rape at the hands of a trusted family friend, they exile her from their Upper West Side home. Róisín is masterly in her visceral representation of Taylia’s despair and rage, her depression and self-loathing, and her inability to be open to even small acts of kindness. Yet as weeks of her wandering in the city unfold, readers sense Taylia’s innate strength, a survival instinct at her core that enables her to find work in a bakery and a friend in Kat, its owner.
VERDICT In lustrous, lyrical language, multifaceted artist Róisín has written an ode to the joy and healing power of self-love. This powerful novel is highly recommended.

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