Spoiler-Free Review: The Five Wounds

Author: Kirstin Valdez Quade

The Padilla family is full of drama. Cancer, alcoholism, unemployment, neglectful parents, teen pregnancy, and that’s all under one roof! Once we get to the extended family there’s domestic abuse, sexual objectification of a child, and more!

This is a well-written drama about a messed-up family manipulating and enabling, each other. It’s realistic and raw. All the characters make realistic mistakes and you understand why they make the choices that they do. If you read this book you will likely nod and say “I know these people” and if you are like me you will say “I know these people, and there is a reason I don’t talk to them anymore!”

The novel’s description makes a big deal out of Holy Week, and that Amadeo Padilla (unemployed, neglectful father, and family alcoholic) is playing Jesus in the church passion play. Early on in the book, this is a big deal, Amadeo sees this as a way to get his life back on track, but then it suddenly isn’t. I know this was based on a short story, so let me guess: that part with the passion play backdrop was the original story and when Quade expanded the story there was nowhere to go with it, so she just dumped the whole plot about Amadeo wanting to make things right with God. I’m not saying that it’s not realistic, I just wish Amadeo wanting to make things right with God was explored more.

My biggest criticism of the writing is that everything just works out for them because we want a happy ending. Amadeo has had way too many “wake-up calls” about his drinking for me to believe the car crash at the end will make him give up booze once and for all. I have no problem believing that his family of enablers would lie to the cops for him, that’s the point! The man was never held responsible for his actions!

Angel is a very believable teen mom. Putting on an act of maturity she doesn’t really have. Again, very well written, I thought I could root for her. Early on I thought she wouldn’t mention the father because she was raped by her mom’s boyfriend, but no, she was just playing “it’s not yours” mind games with him. You little b%$^%! In the end, Angel magically works everything out with her baby daddy… even though there is no mention of putting his name on the birth certificate so that his paternal rights and responsibilities are recognized by law. Yeah, that’s not going to end well.

Maybe I’m just cynical, but I have no hope that any of them will actually make their lives better. Look trama sicks, and I do get that CPTSD is a thing that can scar you for life. That doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to scar other people. None of the characters seem to actually be working to improve their lives, they are reactive instead of proactive. This is not a criticism of the writing! Just the characters. Some people- especially those who have been through trauma- are reactive instead of proactive in life. I wasn’t kidding in my into, I’ve known people just like this. I have had to cut ties with friends and family who act like this because their toxic self-destructive behavior was dragging me into the same behavior.

If you are lucky enough to have lived a charmed life and have no idea what generational trauma can do to a family, check this book out.

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