Author: Claire Boston
Blaze A Trail takes us back into the lives of the Flanagan Sisters, picking up at a point before Change of Heart finished and letting us get to know the youngest Flanagan sister, Zita, a lot better.
The Flanagan Sisters is an interesting series in that a large part of the story revolves around young women and girls fleeing Central America to the United States and trying to gain asylum. The Flanagans originally came across from El Salvador and they want to help as much as they can. Carmen, the matriarch of the family, runs a foster house for girls; some awaiting their asylum hearings and others after they have been granted.
Zita is the youngest of the Flanagan sisters and still living at home. She is passionate about the plight of the girls and she wants to do all she can to help. Since finishing high school she has stayed close to home to do what she can to help out with the care of the girls, teaching them the language and helping prepare them for their hearings. Her life is flat out and it was always enough, but lately she’s feeling like she could do more – if only she wasn’t needed at home so much.
Zita is in no way a new character but we have only seen her through the eyes of her sisters, we haven’t had the opportunity to get inside her head. In Blaze A Trail Boston brings Zita into the limelight so we can really see just how much she does at Casa Flanagan, how she’s really feeling and what her hopes and dreams are.
David Randall is a character we have seen around a bit, he was often Carly’s date for events in previous stories. He comes from a completely different world to the Flanagans and his father is ultra conservative. He meets Zita at the refugee syposium when she has a run in with his dad.
Blaze A Trail takes us the furthest into the plight of the Central American refugees that come through Casa Flanagan, with girls running from forced prostitution, gang violence and abuse. It isn’t possible to hear their stories and not want to help, not want to help end this cycle of abuse for young girls. The conservatives tend to believe that the refugees are fleeing for a free ride and making up these stories to gain asylum because often they don’t have proof of what has happened, or that it should be left up to the governments in their home countries to sort out the issues.
David is fascinated by Zita and how different she is from anyone he has known before, and he wants to understand the refugee crisis better. The two start to spend more time together as David wants to follow the process for one of the cases to understand how it all works, David gets involved with Casa Flanagan through his time with Zita and encourages her to follow her dreams.
Blaze A Trial is a beautiful story, not without its conflict, of family, following your dreams and the issues facing young girls in Central America. There were a few interesting surprises that I hadn’t been expecting but that make perfect sense in hindsight.
Interesting, engaging and well-written with characters you can’t help but love, or empathise with. Blaze A Trial was a book that I found hard to walk away from and will look forward to catching up with the Flanagans in book 4.
Blaze A Trail is book #54 for The Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.