Saturday, July 17, 2010

Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky,translated by Tim Mohr

This short and yet heavy novel is Alina Bronsky's debut novel.  Originally published in German, it has been translated into English by Tim Mohr. Sasha Naimann is a teenage girl. She, her mother (Marina), stepfather Vadim, younger brother Anton and younger sister Alissa moved from Russia to Germany, where they settled into a Russian ghetto. Sasha, a brilliant woman, opens the book by saying that she plans to murder her stepfather because he murdered her mother and her mother's new boyfriend. Vadim is incarcerated, giving Sasha the belief that she has more time to plan his execution. Sasha takes care of her brother and sister with the assistance of Maria, also a Russian immigrant and Vadim's cousin. Sasha struggles with the powerful desire to remain in the apartment that her mother was murdered in, in the housing project known as the "Emerald," because her neighbors (also Russian immigrants), want her family to leave and take their bad luck with them.  Sasha also feels like she doesn't wholly belong because she refuses to participate in the drunken, drug driven parties that her peers engage in in nearby Broken Glass Park - a park that literally has glass strewn about.

What I loved about Sasha is that she has great capacity for love, in spite of the harsh hand that life has been dealt her. She is very protective of her younger siblings and she even agrees to tutor a neighbor in order to help her pass her exams and not be left behind in school. However, her capcity for actually being kind most of the time is non-existent because of what she has suffered. The translation and the writing style along with the memorable Sasha made this book a wonderful and memorable read. It went by insanely fast. I think that I read it in about a day and a half, which is a record for me having a child and a full time job and not as much time as I would like to read.

This is definitely one for you to read.

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