Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky – Book Review

Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky, translated by Tim Mohr

Sascha’s life is…complicated.

She is a teenage Russian girl living in the slum Broken Glass Park in Germany with her little sister and brother and her ex-stepfather’s cousin. Saschas’s mother is no longer around because Sascha’s ex-stepfather brutally murdered her and her boyfriend.

Despite the fact that her family is now shunned by neighbors superstitious that Sascha’s family tragedy might rub off on them, Sascha has big plans for her life. She believes these plans make her unique in Broken Glass Park, where most people’s dreams are either shallow or non-existent.

The opening lines of “Broken Glass Park” both summed up Sascha’s character perfectly and sucked me immediately into the book:

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.

I loved “Broken Glass Park.” Translations can be awkward at times, if the translator isn’t well versed in idioms and nuances of both languages. Happily, that was not the case here. “Broken Glass Park” was both beautifully written and beautifully translated. Sascha was a compelling character, her murderous dreams not withstanding. Although she and I have very different backgrounds (and I have no plans to murder anyone), Bronsky and Mohr made Sascha absolutely real to me, and I empathized with her completely.

Sascha’s world was a difficult one, which meant that this was not always an easy book to read in terms of subject matter, but I also wasn’t able to put it down. This is my first book from Europa Editions and if they are all nearly this good, I can’t wait to read more. Highly recommended.

Note: There is some sex, drug use, and domestic violence.

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This review was done with a book received from Regal Literary.
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