Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine – Book Review

Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine
Published by Europa Editions

A pet lending library (yes, that it just what it sounds like) is perhaps not the most prestigious place for a college graduate to work, but then again, it wasn’t all the great being an ice cream-scooper or gift-wrapper either. Not only is our unnamed protagonist stuck in the deadest of dead end jobs, but her relationship with her live-in boyfriend (read: the guy she mooches off of) is somewhat sub-par as well. But, while she’s not really happy, she’s also not motivated enough to change anything about how she is living – until she reads Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Never has a book had such a deep and immediate impact on a reader as Treasure Island has on her, that it is life-changing is not even hyperbole. Armed with what she sees as the books Core Values of boldness, resolution, independence, and horn-blowing, our unnamed protagonist is now ready to take on the world with hilarious results that are both predictable (to the reader) and unexpected (to her).

Never has a book been so poorly interpreted as Stevenson’s Treasure Island is by the narrator of Levine’s Treasure Island!!!. Her assessment of the Core Values may not be too far off, but her method of attempting to live them out is, frankly, bizarre, and generally involves taking little to no responsibility for her actions. Now, none of this is in any way meant to be a criticism of Levine’s Treasure Island!!!, she has actually created a wryly story about an incredibly misguided and socially inept girl who completely misses the point of what she considers to be incredibly transformational literature.

Levine’s Treasure Island!!! is fun and funny, and may make you wonder if you have ever completely missed the point of a book. If you’re interested in Levine’s process and how she came to write Treasure Island!!!, check out our interview with her on What’s Old is New.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, for an episode of What’s Old is New.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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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.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound

This review was done with a book received from Regal Literary.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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