Monday, April 6, 2015
Book Review: "Trail of Broken Wings" by Sejal Badani
When their father falls into a coma, three sisters are forced to confront the secrets of their childhood that they've tried to keep hidden. Growing up in an Indian-American family, they were always taught to value appearances above everything else, and they succeeded, as from the outside looking in, they were a model family. But that couldn't have been further from the truth.
Sonya, the baby of the family, was the brunt of most of her father's anger and violence. She fled home as quickly as she could, and used her photography career to keep her at a distance from life, refusing to allow herself to connect with anyone, afraid her secret shame will be revealed.
Trisha was her father's favorite, and while she was able to stay safe while growing up, watching her mother and sisters be victimized certainly took its toll on her. She's created the perfect suburban life, but there's still a wall she can't seem to take down, and she doesn't understand why.
The oldest daughter, Marin, remembers what life was like in India, before her family moved to America. Her father's abuse has shaped her into a ruthless businesswoman, stopping at nothing to get what she wants, and she doesn't quite understand what happens to those who get caught in the crossfire, even if they are people she cares about.
Trail of Broken Wings is a powerfully moving book about the dangerous and destructive cycle of violence and abuse that affects far too many families, as well as the secrets we keep and the lies we tell, ostensibly to protect those we love. But we don't quite understand just how those secrets can affect our adult lives, and the lives of those around us.
Sejal Badani is a very talented writer, and her use of language borders on the lyrical and poetic at times. The challenge with this book, however, is that in painting an accurate picture of the long-term effects of abuse, her characters are at times both sympathetic and unlikeable, and some of the situations seem a bit melodramatic. And even though you probably have an idea of how Badani will tie up the story, it's still very compelling.
Domestic and child abuse is a serious subject that is still too often swept under the rug. Even if books like Trail of Broken Wings may cause some discomfort, these are stories that need to be told.