Published May 2015 by Lake Union Publishing
Source: my ecopy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.
Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father—the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence—remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.
If you've been reading this blog for long, you know how much I love novels set in India or about Indian families who have emigrated. I'm surprised the ladies at TLC Book Tours don't just pencil me in for tours when they have a book on tour that falls into this criteria. I can't say exactly what it is about the Indian people that so fascinates me but I know that the books I read never fail to revel something new to me about the culture, the country and its people. Trail of Broken Wings is no exception.
"A family has requested puja - often commissioned for auspicious occasions - to celebrate the building of their new house. In a puja, the gurus spend an entire day in prayer and then call friends and loved ones of the family to join in to bless the occasion."I have often seen in books and movies, the gathering of Indians, particularly amongst the immigrant population, but I don't know that I was ever aware that there was a special name for the occasions. Nor was I aware of the belief that prevented those same communities from largely shunning one of their own.
"A common belief among Indians is that if you spend too much time around someone experiencing bad luck, their energy can transfer to you...It was why Ranee never revealed her truth to any of them - if they knew her misfortune, they would cease to be her friends."Sonya, Trisha, Marin, and their mother, Ranee have spent decades living with the pain and nightmares inflicted on them by the family patriarch, Brent. Each of them has learned to deal with his violence in their own way - Sonja by fleeing and shutting down emotionally; Trisha by forgetting and molding herself to the traditional role for women; Marin by constantly striving to be the best, to be perfect; and Ranee by resigning herself to a life of overwhelming guilt and smoldering anger. When Brent falls into a coma, things begin to unravel for each of the women as they are forced to confront their feelings for the man who abused them and the next generation of abuse.
So often when an author tries to create different conflicts for a number of characters it feels forced, sometimes as if the author has tried to take on too much. In Trail of Broken Wings, Badani gives each of the women their own stories but because each of the stories directly relates to their reaction to their history of abuse, avoiding that forced feeling.
Trail of Broken Wings is a powerfully emotional look at what happens when families weighed down with secrets overcome the stigma and begin the healing process. Although it sometimes got overly wordy, overall Badani kept things moving as she shifted points of view and moved seamlessly from the past to the present. Each of the women is given equal weight and readers will come to care about each of them and hope that they will find their way to a happier life. Perhaps the greatest feat, though, is making Brent something more than just a monster. Although she makes it clear that every attack on his family was a choice he made, Badani shows him as a man who lost control over himself when his American dream failed to materialize but who, once upon a time, knew how to love.
"Finding what he was searching for, he picked up a small rock, no larger than a pebble. Laying it between them on the tabletop, he pushed it toward her without touching her. "I hope to give you the world," Brent explained. "This rock is a small piece of it. One day I will present you with more." Every year after that, until he fell into his coma, Brent would present her with a rock on their anniversary. Each larger than the original one...Ranee never knew how he found them, but each year he would present it to her with a grand display and say, "I'm going to give you the world, Ranee." She always wanted to say, "If you could stop hitting us, that would be enough." But she never did and he never stopped."
Thanks to the ladies of TLC for including me on this tour. For other opinions about the book, check out the full tour.
Sejal Badani is a former attorney. She currently lives on the West Coast with her family and their two dogs. Trail of Broken Wings is an impressive debut. I look forward to her next novel.