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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Clipped Wings: Hear the Soaring Voices Set Free by Jennifer Gilmour is an anthology of non-fiction short stories that present authentic accounts of domestic abuse. Each story lends voice to a survivor who found themselves in relationships that carried the pain of all manner of abuse, oppression, and suffocation of the mind, body, and soul. While the theme is universal, the stories are not and range in both tone and tenor from testimonies such as Jodi's, where a seemingly perfect beginning culminates in a nearly deadly end as she grapples with a partner fuelled by drugs and violence, to Hannah, who was subjected to financial abuse that facilitated her dependency on a controlling and abusive man who isolated her from her friends and family.
Clipped Wings is an extraordinary compilation that is as heartbreaking as it is inspirational, with twenty-five accounts including Jennifer Gilmour's own story. All are written in the first-person as each contributor reveals snapshots of a life that went terribly wrong. One of the more moving pieces for me is the story of Michael, a man who enters into a lengthy partnership with a woman fifteen years his junior and is thrust into a whirlwind of co-dependency, false and devastating allegations, and destructive behavior. As victims begin their path to healing, it is apparent that their past trauma, while forever haunting, gives way to hope. Their telling appears to be cathartic for themselves and creates something of a fellowship between other victims and readers who may find themselves in situations they identify with. The light at the end of the tunnel has the potential to lead another reader into the sunlight where they too just might find the courage to soar.