Like a Bird is the reckoning of a life force—or in Taylia Chatterjee’s opinion, a forced life. The daughter of a white, over-proactive American mother and a stern, intellectual Indian father, Taylia navigates a world constantly challenged by standards she never agreed to. She resents her father’s submission to assimilation, and his shameless chasing of the idyllic American Dream; she scoffs at her mother’s display of faux humanitarianism and her subtle self-proclaimed courage for marrying a “savage” (in Taylia’s opinion). But Taylia’s greatest umbrage is reserved for herself—and, like most girls budding into womanhood, the hatred for her own body (and her incapability to connect with anyone on any level) becomes the driving force.
Taylia’s sister Alyssa, on the other hand, is not like most girls. An heiress to the white-girl hierarchy, Alyssa has everything that Taylia lacks: the white-girl skin, the white-girl name, the white-girl joie de vivre—the quintessential “I wish I could be her” poster girl of the Upper West Side. Taylia fights to accept this unfair hand that was dealt to her, slipping in and out of her internal sufferings—often interrupted by apparitions of her deceased dadi-ma—to find there are very few clear answers as to why happiness is given so generously to some but deprived to others.
But after a series of most unforgivable events, Taylia is forced to reconcile her false perceptions of happiness and seek out her own definitions of what life means. And it is through that heartfelt journey—and through Róisín’s painfully honest and raw prose—that we see Taylia’s healing process begin.