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Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky
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Broken Glass Park (2008)

by Alina Bronsky

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» See also 49 mentions

English (16)  German (1)  All (17)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
This is Bronsky's first novel, and it shows. It opens wonderfully: "Sometimes I think I'm the only one in our neighborhood with any worthwhile dreams. I have two, and there's no reason to be ashamed of either one. I want to kill Vadim. And I want to write a book about my mother. I already have a title: The Story of an Idiotic Redheaded Woman Who Would Still Be Alive If Only She Had Listened To Her Smart Older Daughter."

Bronsky created a wonderful narrative voice for Sacha, the "smart older daughter." When the novel opens, Sacha's mother has been murdered by her stepfather, and Sacha, with her two younger siblings, living in an impoverished immigrant area of Berlin, must cope as she deals with her anger and her grief. Unfortunately, the book just doesn't seem to hold together. It wandered a lot, as if Bronsky wasn't quite sure where she wanted to take Sacha, and included Sacha having a fairly creepy relationship with a middle-aged journalist. Despite some good parts, this was basically an unsatisfactory read.

2 1/2 generous stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jan 16, 2016 |
A stunning novel, everyone should read it. This is Alina Bronsky's first novel. Her second, The Hottest Dishes of Tartar Cuisine, is also excellent. They have a lot in common: gritty stories of Russian emigrees in Germany told by unforgettable narrators. But they also show the range of Bronsky's imagination and voice not least the fact that this one is narrated by a 17 year old girl and Tartar Cuisine was narrated by a grandmother.

Broken Glass Park is a coming of age story with nothing whitewashed. Sascha lives in a Russian slum outside a German city. Her mother has just been murdered and she's left with her two half siblings and a relative who comes from Russia to take care of them. Sascha is brilliant, both cruel and kind, both strong and helpless. Following her mother's death she starts to spin further out of control. Has to be read. ( )
2 vote nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Sascha is a vulnerable girl hiding behind a tough veneer. I couldn’t help but admire her candor and her unflinching fight to deal with a disturbing childhood filled with domestic violence and childhood abuse. The author told Sascha’s story without sentimentality but with a straightforwardness that was refreshing yet brutal in its honesty. The writing was sparse and lyrical. I couldn’t put it down. ( )
  TheLoopyLibrarian | Sep 10, 2012 |
The only word that comes to mind when I think about Russian author Alina Bronsky is audacious. I’m not sure how old she is but this, her debut novel, is the second novel I’ve read (apparently, I’m reading her works in reverse order of publication) and she is definitely a risk-taker. Daring, bold, impudent, whatever adjective you choose to attach to her name, her writing provides for a remarkable look at the lives of Russian immigrants in modern-day Germany. And you can count on a unique and inimitable voice. In Broken Glass Park, that voice belongs to seventeen year old Sachsa Naimann and the book’s first paragraph provides an introduction to this brash teenage girl:

”Sometimes I think I’m the only one in our neighborhood with any worthwhile dreams. I have two, and there’s no reason to be ashamed of either one. I want to kill Vadim. And I want to write a book about my mother. I already have a title: The Story of an Idiotic Redheaded Woman Who Would Still Be Alive If Only She Had Listened to Her Smart Oldest Daughter. Or maybe that’s more of a subtitle. But I have plenty of time to figure it out because I haven’t started writing yet.”

So now you know what the book is about. Sachsa lives with her younger brother and sister in a Russian ghetto. They’ve all been left orphans by the murder of their mother and the incarceration of their father. And if she weren’t so darn smart, she’d realize that her dream should be to get out of that ghetto by marrying a rich man like her friend Angela does.

But Sachsa keeps her eye on the prize and in the meantime, we learn what life is like for her, her siblings and their friends. And when she becomes infatuated with a handsome and caring older man, Sachsa’s life takes a dangerous and violent, turn.

I can’t say enough about the language, which is startlingly vivid and stark.

”The window shatters into a thousand glittering shards. For a fraction of a second they all hang in the air, a giant, weightless piece of art. Then they all plummet to the asphalt and break into even smaller pieces.” (Page 206)

Nothing left to do now except wait impatiently for Alina Bronsky’s next effort. Highly recommended. ( )
6 vote brenzi | May 1, 2012 |
Sascha Naimann is a street-smart orphan, left alone with her younger brother and sister when her stepfather shoots her mother. Sascha's main goal in life is to shoot her stepfather, Vadim, when he is released from prison. The children are now cared for by one of Vadim's cousins, though Sascha, at seventeen, clearly wields the power in the household. Sascha is one of the few in her predominantly-Russian housing complex who speaks German.

Generally I enjoyed this book, though it could have used a stronger plot. Aside from killing Vadim, Sascha's life is scattered, as is the action. I felt like the plot was wavering. Bronsky's book does show the remarkably power that precocious teenage girls can wield over men, though I did find Sascha's relationship with the newspaper editor to be creepy, at best. ( )
  lahochstetler | Mar 16, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alina Bronskyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mohr, TimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Galina, Leonid, and Michael.

In memory of Nadezhda Zotova.
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Sometimes I think I'm the only one in our neighborhood with any worthwhile dreams.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
From Europa Editions:

Russian-born Alina Bronsky has been the subject of constant praise and debate since her debut novel, Broken Glass Park, was published in Germany in 2008. She has been hailed as a literary prodigy and her novel as “an explosive debut” (Emma Magazine). Now, Broken Glass Park makes its first appearance in English in Tim Mohr’s masterful translation.

The heroine of this engrossing and thoroughly contemporary novel is seventeen-year-old Sascha Naimann. Sascha was born in Moscow, but now lives in Berlin with her two younger siblings and, until recently, her mother. She is precocious, independent, street-wise, and, since her stepfather murdered her mother several months ago, an orphan. Unlike most of her companions, she doesn’t dream of escaping from the tough housing project where they live. Sascha’s dreams are different: she longs to write a novel about her beautiful but naïve mother and she wants to end the life of Vadim, the man who brutally murdered her. Sascha’s story, as touching as any in recent literature, is that of a young woman consumed by two competing impulses, one celebrative and redemptive, the other murderous. In a voice that is candid and self-confident, at times childlike and at others all too mature, Sascha relates the universal and timeless struggle between those forces that can destroy us, and those that lead us back from sorrow and pain to life itself. Germany’s Freundin Magazine called Broken Glass Park “a gripping portrayal of life on the margins of society.” But Sascha’s story does not remain on the margins; it goes straight to the heart of what it means to be young, alive, and conscious in these first decades of the new century.
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Seventeen-year-old Sacha Naimann dreams of writing a novel about her mother and killing the man who murdered her, Sacha's stepfather Vadim, while struggling to care for her younger siblings and leave behind her painful childhood.

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