Book review: Shattered, by Travis Winks
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
Imagine, for a moment, how it would feel to know that your brother had attempted suicide, your sister had been jailed and your father had been shot on family property – all within the space of barely three months.
Such a confluence of tragedies almost seems unimaginable, but in 2016, this became reality for journalist and broadcaster Travis Winks, shared in harrowing detail in his debut memoir, Shattered.
I’m not the first person to say that despite its emotionally challenging subject matter, Shattered is almost impossible to put down. This is partly a result of its clever structure – alternating between key developments in the lives of Winks’ brother, sister and father, with each chapter ending at a point of high tension. Even more compelling, though, is Winks’ willingness to share so many intimate and painful experiences so candidly.
Shattered lays bare the consequences of domestic violence and the challenges presented by mental illness, as well as the difficulties faced by those nearest to people afflicted by them. As the family’s troubles escalate, Winks has to balance his concerns for his siblings and parents with the needs of his own partner and children, all the while having to wear a brave public face to carry on his radio announcing work.
Winks’ memoir offers no simple answers to the problems it shares, but his extraordinary family’s humour and deep love for each other shine through and offer a sense of hope through unthinkable trauma, and invite us to ask how we can better deal with these issues as a society. Shattered serves as stark encouragement to keep a close eye on loved ones, and not to take the resilience of others as a given, no matter how stoic they appear on the surface. It’s a riveting and extremely important book.
Big Sky Publishing