I missed Friday Reads last week – it was a victim of my general loss of motivation and stressful week! Plus the fact that I didn’t really have a recent book I wanted to review. But in the last week I’ve finished one, so let’s get back on track 🙂
Firstly, I should say that I really enjoyed Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Hadani. A tale of Indian immigrants to the United States, it is a story of a family: a father, Brent, his wife Ranee, and three sisters: Marin, Trisha and Sonya.
Brent has fallen into an unexplained coma, and the family comes together to sit at his bedside, seeming to the doctor as the perfect loving family, but actually hiding a history of abuse. Brent was a violent man who repeatedly beat his wife and daughters, and the majority of those sitting around the bedside are hoping he never comes out of the coma. The book switches from the past, when the abuse was taking place, and the present day, when the three sisters struggle to come to terms with how the abuse has shaped who they are and the secrets they still all hold from each other. It sounds really dark and sad, but actually it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. It was certainly sad but the style of writing was light and so it was easily readable.
I became really drawn into the characters, caring about them and wanting to know what happened next. The three main characters, the sisters, were really well developed and I felt as if I knew them. But…
The writing style left a little to be desired in my opinion. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different sister – this wasn’t my problem as I like books like this. The chapters are in present tense and switch from the first person to the third person – again, not a problem for me and its a useful device to really get you deep into the mindset of the characters but also to show the reader things they couldn’t learn just from the first person. No, my problem was with the sentences themselves, especially in the chapters told from the first person, as they often just didn’t ring true, seemed too fake and stilted. For example:
“He wraps his arms around my waist from behind, his fingers sneaking below my shirt to touch my bare stomach. It is flat, thanks to the hours I spend in the gym.”
That last sentence – nobody speaks like that or thinks like that!!! And there are little phrases like that throughout the book which I just found so jarring and, well, annoying. Along with this, some of the characters’ actions didn’t really ring true – they weren’t things people would do, it didn’t seem true that they would react like that. I’m not expressing myself very well which I know is slightly hypocritical here, but hey, I’m not a novelist 🙂
So overall, I loved the story but I found certain elements of the way it was written unreal and just a little annoying.