Eighty-one-year-old Mitzi Steiner is preparing to say goodbye to the man she loved beyond measure for 60 years. On the other side of Tulsa, Brooke Woodson is embarking on a marriage journey with one of the city's elite --- a prominent, handsome lawyer with plans to become the next District Attorney. While Mitzi takes comfort in her relationship with God, and memories of her wonderful marriage and singing career, Brooke is plagued by anxiety. To all the world, her future looks brighter than sunshine, but she knows about the darkness her fiancé hides from everyone else and fears the consequences if it engulfs her. Like a sparrow with broken wings, she tries to fly free, strengthened by Mitzi's support and prayers when the two become unlikely friends. Brooke will learn the true meaning of Mitzi's favorite song lyrics: "For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."
Brooke knows she is the luckiest girl in Tulsa. How could she not? Her mother tells her nearly every day. She still can't believe Lance Evans chose her out of all the girls at his law firm and, for that matter, throughout the city. But lying in a hospital bed on her birthday, Brooke struggles to remember how she got there, hoping she's mistaken that it was Lance's hands that bloodied her face. It doesn't take long for the haze of doubt to dissipate. She tries to convince herself it was her own fault --- that she provoked his anger and that he would never do it again. At her bedside, Brooke's mother ogles the roses from Lance, recanting his explanation of Brooke tripping over the cat's water bowl and falling on her face. But Mitzi, retired from show business and volunteering as a "Pink Lady" at the hospital, knows the truth. She was there when Brooke came stumbling into the emergency room, with no one to accompany her. She saw the look in her eyes, and heard her vague answers and lame excuses for her injuries.
Mitzi is well into the winter of her life --- a life blessed with her loving husband, Gabe, who doubled as her singing partner for two decades as the two sailed through international fame. Her knight in shining armor now lies in a nursing home, suffering from Alzheimer's. It is where she spends nearly all of her time. When she sees Brooke in the ER, she feels God guiding her to take action. Mitzi discloses her suspicion about the injuries, but Brooke brushes it off. After all, Lance had been under a lot of stress lately. But when Brooke lands in the hospital a second time, with far worse injuries inflicted by Lance, she can't pretend any longer. She accepts Mitzi's offer to stay at her house for a few days, knowing no one will find her there. Not even her mother, who believes Lance's lies instead of Brooke's version.
As Brooke becomes enveloped by Mitzi's love and faith, she feels herself getting stronger, ready to fly away from her volatile fiancé and into a better life. She breaks her engagement to Lance, propelling his vengeful nature into overdrive. He stalks her, spreads lies about her, and threatens her. Meanwhile, Brooke meets Drew, Mitzi's godson who has come to stay with her while finishing his internship in pediatrics. As a tiny flame begins to smolder between Drew and Brooke, a fiery blaze is burning in Lance. When he can't locate Brooke, he finds another target for his rage.
BROKEN WINGS offers up characters worth caring about, an enticing plot and subplot, and hearty helpings of suspense, action, and acts of kindness and faith, with a little dab of romance. The book has a lovely Christian tone, soft as a whisper, without being preachy. It flows like a mixed melody of ballads, rock 'n' roll, jazz and blues, compelling the reader to keep turning one more page. Carla Stewart writes like a seasoned author, though BROKEN WINGS is only her second published novel. Hopefully we will see many more from her.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on June 3, 2011