Published: 1 May 2015
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.
Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.
Receiving news her father is in a coma, Sonya, returns home to be with her mother and her sisters, but the picture of a concerned family sitting around the bed of a loved one is nothing more than an illusion since all of them have been victims of abuse.
Sonya, the youngest sister, believing her parents never wanted her, left home after graduating from college and never returned. Marin and Trisha chose to hide their pain behind the facade of a perfect family life, but Sonya’s return proves to be just the beginning of the end.
Trail of Broken Wings is a heartbreaking story of how three sisters grew up victims of their father’s abuse and how each of them chose to deal with the trauma as adults. Marin, the eldest, is channelling all her hopes and dreams into her teenage daughter, Gia, who is about to turn sixteen but Marin is sacrificing love for success. When Marin realises her daughter is being abused by someone outside the family, she is horrified by her daughter’s apparent acceptance of it and with it comes the harsh reality that she has failed to protect her daughter. A distraught Marin puts into motion a series of events designed to help Gia but as a consequence she alienates her daughter instead. The only way Marin can save their relationship is to admit to the traumatic past that still haunts her and open her heart to emotions long repressed.
Trisha, her father’s favourite, was the only one not beaten, however Trisha bears the guilt of having watched her sisters and mother suffer. Trisha chose to deal with the abuse by creating a perfect family with her dolls and when she grew up, she made it a reality by marrying Eric and creating a showcase home where ugliness is not allowed. However, Trisha’s happy illusions are shattered when she realises her husband wants children more than a wife, and the idea of repeating the cycle of abuse instigated by her father, the parent she resembles the most, terrifies her. However, Sonya’s return is triggering far more sinister memories and Trisha is forced into realising the past may not be quite as she remembers it.
Ever since she left home, Sonya has been running and she has no intention of stopping now until Trisha begs her to stay. Sonya quickly realises the lives her sisters have created for themselves are nothing but fantasy, however long years of ignoring the truth have made it difficult for any of them to talk about the truth. However, skirting around the issue is no longer an option when secrets threaten the life of someone they all love. While staying away from her father’s bedside as much as she can, Sonya realises she is beginning to live again but if she wants a future, she is going to have to be brave enough to reach out for it.
All three sisters have their own ways of dealing with their past, and one of those methods is definitely keeping it all suppressed, even from the people who love them and their decision to do that places them at risk of losing those same people. I have to admit the constant secrecy started to annoy me and I just wanted one of them to open up before there was nothing left, however, at the same time, I totally understood why it was so difficult to do that. Who knows what would’ve happened if their father hadn’t ended up in hospital and Sonya hadn’t come home? However, as far as I’m concerned, the real catalyst for them facing up to their past was what happened to Gia. The idea that being a victim of abuse could be cyclical spurs the three of them into acting because they all see Gia as their future and if they can’t save her, then how can they save themselves?
I don’t really want to go into much more detail about the journey each sister has to take in this book because you really should read it for yourself, but I will freely admit the writing had me choked up on more than one occasion. The extent of the abuse unravels slowly and while it doesn’t make for easy reading, there are a few twists along the way. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the writing was the fact it was in the present tense because I’m just not a fan of that tense in fiction. While I realise the tense is supposed to bring an immediacy to the writing, I just find it really hard losing myself in it.