Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review: Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

No one on the outside ever knows what goes on under the surface of a family. A perfect façade leaves those looking in thinking that the family is in fact, if not perfect, then darn close and lucky to be there. But facades can be faked, manufactured, and can have little connection to reality. This is how abusers get away with their trade for so long. Someone has to crack the superficial lie before the horrific truth emerges into the light. This is very much the case in Sejal Badani's novel, Trail of Broken Wings, about one Indian American family and its legacy of abuse.

As Brent lies in an inexplicable coma, his three daughters and his wife gather round him in what might be a show of love and devotion. In fact, they are each grappling with their long and terrifying past with the man in the hospital bed, even as they continue to maintain the careful façade they have created over the years. Trisha, the favorite daughter and the only one to escape the brutal and constant beatings, mourns the loss of her beloved father, even as she recognizes the ways he terrorized her sisters, compartmentalizing them from the loving man she knew. Oldest daughter Marin, now a mother herself, has always been driven to perfection in order to prove her worth and to hopefully forestall the beatings. Youngest daughter Sonya is the prodigal, the one who was uncertain whether she'd come home for this vigil, the one who fled her father's fists and left her family behind so long ago to photograph the world. But really there is no escape, not for Brent's daughters, not for his wife Ranee. The mental and emotional scars are forever, the long term psychological fallout for them as survivors of abuse is greater than they ever imagined, and they are all damaged.

As each of the women gather at Brent's bedside, she keeps the secrets she's hidden for so long. The relationships amongst all of these women are strained by their past, their resentments, and their inability to allow anyone, even fellow sufferers, to see the full extent of their shame. Reading about these women is emotionally taxing, especially in the chapters told by Sonya in first person. The other chapters focused on her sisters and her mother are told in third person, giving them a modicum of distance that her own painful musings do not have. The story moves backwards and forwards in time, from the happier, pre-abusive times when they lived in India to the dawning frustration of life in America where Brent faced racism, marginalization, and a demeaning that he could not absorb, reflecting it instead, and then finally to the horrors he inflicted on the family who depended on him. With the coma giving his family time to decide what Brent's reckoning must ultimately be, the story is very heavy feeling and makes the reader wonder if they can possibly heal. There are some unexpected twists and turns in the story which helps when it seems as if it is going on just a bit too long but the ending itself, for several of the characters, is not entirely in keeping with the tone of the novel. After years of dragging this terrible baggage and being unable to face or acknowledge it, an ending promising so much hope seems too easy and unearned. Despite that, this is a realistic and difficult portrayal of lives in the aftermath of abuse and the ways in which silence is so much the enemy of truth and healing.

For more information about Sejal Badani and the book, check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. Communication and honesty are so very hard but silence it definitely the enemy.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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