Title: Fractured Angel
Author: Ken Williams
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Review copy from Sakura Publishing
My rating: 2.5/5
How would you go about trying to help your daughter who, suffering her first psychotic break at fifteen, is chased by her wounded mind to the streets of Santa Barbara? That is the dilemma that Lynne Swanson faces. Out of her element, and definitely out of her comfort zone for this professional woman, she is forced to seek the help of Kerry Wilson, a social worker for the homeless. Unfortunately for her, Kerry is a rough-necked loner that has no inclination to hold the hand of a woman who he feels is out for a lark at the expense of his homeless clients. The harsh and deadly realities of the streets in one of the wealthiest cities in the world and an attempt to close a homeless shelter just as winter sets in produces a dramatic race against time with the life of Lynne’s daughter in the balance.
A humbling novel detailing the lives behind the faces of those experiencing homelessness and hunger. As someone who has grown up near the streets of major cities like Philadelphia and New York, the outsider experience is all too real for me, passing people sleeping on the sidewalk or looking for spare change or food. Unfortunately, there is judgment there – and I would say from both sides – as it is natural. This novel pushes the envelope on looking past the surface and acknowledging that we are all people with the same basic needs at the end of the day.
If you can overlook the splintering effect of glass breaking on each page as a quick distraction from the content, the story gives life to what can seem to be a taboo topic in America – homelessness. We all want to see the success stories – the rags to riches, some may say. However, there are stories in this novel that portray getting by and getting through the day and worrying about tomorrow, tomorrow. Sometimes the story ends as the human body and mind give way. I feel that there is discomfort, when experiencing or, in this case reading, something that we may not experience every day, and that is exactly why it is needed. Shedding light on the social work and shelter system was an added detail to give a full picture to what people experiencing homeless have as challenges along with those working in the system.
Aside from the overarching theme of homelessness, the brief love story is hackneyed and does not develop as an in depth aspect of the main content. A strong friendship between the two adult main characters would have sufficed with a promise of a relationship in the future versus a rushed love. I do wish there was more development of Tracy (Lynne’s runaway daughter) with her mental health and diving more into what that looks like in combination of fending for oneself. I believe the messages and themes that come out of this story are the most powerful beyond the content.
Two quotes that left me with more to ponder, I will leave for you:
“Hearts broke, all because mental illness snuck in like a thief in the night, robbing the child of its mind. It was a form of kidnapping. One where the victim was never to return. Cruelly, ransom was irrelevant. The sweet memories of childhood were suddenly replaced with the terror of losing a child you loved”
“We’re in denial because of our prejudices. Ones created and conditioned by Hollywood. Think who our role models are for the mentally ill: Jason. Psycho. Freddy Krueger…Of course they don’t mention that Abe Lincoln and others like him suffered from mental illness, now do they? That many creative and great people have not only overcome their illness, but just maybe they are who they are because of it”
Read Fractured Angel if you like the themes of:
- Social Work
- Mental Illness
- Hunger and Homelessness