- Paperback: 378 Pages
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 1, 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.
Buy, read, and discuss Trail of Broken Wings
Sejal Badani is a former attorney. She currently lives on the West Coast with her family and their two dogs.
Everyone knows that old saying about how there are three sides to every story, yours, mine, and the truth, and never has that been more true than in Sejal Badani’s new novel Trail of Broken Wings, where each of the four women in the story (mother, Ranee, and her three daughters, Marin, Trisha, and Sonya) has her own story and her own truth, but so do the men in their lives, although those truths are more quietly spoken.
With four main characters, you might think the narrative would be a little bit confusing, but Badani makes all the characters – not just Ranee and her daughters – distinct and dimensional, just each of their stories is distinct. I especially liked the subtle ways in which Badani used language – Ranees is more stylized, highlighting her status as someone who immigrated as an adult, while the daughters are all much more American in their speech patterns.
The mostly male supporting characters – Gia (Marin’s teenaged daughter) Raj (Marin’s husband by an arranged marriage), Eric (Trisha’s husband), and David (the handsome doctor destined to be Sonya’s love interest) are all fully realized – something a lot of women don’t always do well, just as a lot of mean never fully realize their female supporting characters. Of all of them, Raj was the least open to us, as readers, and I have to confess, I’d have liked more of him.
Then there’s Brent, Ranee’s husband, and father of her girls. Also an immigrant (he and Ranee married and started their family back in India), he spends most of the novel in a coma, but his presence is strongly felt throughout the novel, even so, and, as his actions dictate almost everyone else’s choices, without ever speaking a line, he becomes one of the most influential characters in the book.
I liked the structure of this novel – alternating chapters, headed with the POV character’s name, and I liked the way the past both formed the present, and became a release, as well. It was a satisfying read, and ended with a note of hope, if not a perfect pat ending, and I like that better than pretty bows, anyway.
The use of Indian culture as both a grounding mechanism and as counterpoint to modern American life worked really well, and the constant descriptions of food made my mouth water, and might seem out of place, unless you believe, as I do, that food is a source of both culture and comfort.
While this book does deal with very dark subjects (child abuse, domestic violence, rape), it does so in a sensitive manner based in truth, and never sensationalized.
If you’re up for a good family drama that straddles the line between contemporary and literary fiction, you will not be disappointed by Trail of Broken Wings.
Goes well with: chai tea, garlic naan, and whatever other Indian food suits your fancy.
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Tuesday, May 5th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, May 6th: Lit and Life
Thursday, May 7th: She Treads Softly
Monday, May 11th: Kritter’s Ramblings
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Monday, May 18th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
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Thursday, May 28th: A Reader’s Oasis
Wednesday, June 3rd: Bibliotica
Thursday, June 4th: Broken Teepee