Birdy is a touching paean to friendship

William Wharton’s classic novel of friendship and the terrible cost of war has tragically been out of print for the last few years. This haunting and brilliant novel that was adapted into an awarded-winning film by Alan Parker has recently been re-released by The Friday Project.

Birdy tells the tale of two adolescent boys who form an unlikely friendship in pre-war Philadelphia. Al is the classic American teenager, into girls, weightlifting and looking good and Birdy is, well, Birdy. Obsessed with flight and the inner world of the avian, Birdy is somewhat less conventional. The story takes place after WWII when Al, badly injured himself in the war, is called to an army psychiatric hospital to try and help his friend. The horror of what Birdy has witnessed as a soldier has caused him to retreat into a catatonic state that sees him perched in his hospital room behaving like a bird. Al’s attempts to reach Birdy tell the story of their teenage friendship and explore the impact of war on the human psyche in a truly unforgettable way.

The Friday Project is reissuing all of Wharton’s writings including his previously unpublished wartime memoir, Shrapnel. The entire Wharton collection features beautiful brand new cover art by Henrike Dreier, a 21-year-old student at London’s Central Saint Martin’s who won the opportunity to design the covers in a competition run by The Friday Project’s parent company, Harper Collins.

Birdy is a genuine classic; a beautiful, touching paean to friendship, a harrowing tale of war and mental illness and ultimately a damning indictment of the cages we build around ourselves.


Review by Neil Martin. Contact Neil here.