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Broken Glass Park [Paperback]

Alina Bronsky , Tim Mohr

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Book Description

March 30 2010
Broken Glass Park made a remarkable debut when it was published in Germany in 2008. Its author, the twenty-nine-year old Russian-born Alina Bronksy has since been hailed as a wunderkind, an immense talent who has been the subject of constant praise and debate.

The heroine of this enigmatic, razor-sharp, and thoroughly contemporary novel is seventeen- year-old Sacha Naimann, born in Moscow. Sacha lives in Berlin now with her two younger siblings and, until recently, her mother. She is precocious, independent, skeptical and, since her stepfather murdered her mother several months ago, an orphan. Unlike most of her companions, she doesn't dream of getting out the tough housing project where they live. Her dreams are different: she wants to write a novel about her mother; and she wants to end the life of Vadim, the man who murdered her.

What strikes the reader most in this exceptional novel is Sacha's voice: candid, self-confident, mature and childlike at the same time: a voice so like the voices of many of her generation with its characteristic mix of worldliness and innocence, skepticism and enthusiasm. This is Sacha's story and it is as touching as any in recent literature.

Germany's Freundin Magazine called Broken Glass Park "a ruthless, entertaining portrayal of life on the margins of society." But Sacha's story does not remain on the margins; it goes straight to the heart of what it means to be seventeen in these the first years of the new century.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (March 30 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781933372969
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372969
  • ASIN: 1933372966
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.1 x 1.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #201,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surviving broken heads, hearts & windows March 30 2010
By Patto - Published on
I'm always on the lookout for new books from Europa Editions - and when I saw this one, I snapped it up.

Alina Bronsky's first novel is hard to put down. It kept me up till one last night. There are so many books out there about murder and violence, but this story starts after the crime. Sascha watched her ex-stepfather Vadim shoot and kill her mother. Now she's seventeen and biding her time till Vadim gets out of jail, so she can kill him.

Her nine-year-old brother Anton thinks she has a good idea. He was there too. So was the toddler of the family, Alissa. They live in the Russian ghetto of Berlin, shunned by most of their neighbors for having such bad luck, but lovingly cooked for and cared for by their fat Russian cousin Maria.

Sascha is brash, angry, fearless, oddly witty, often kind - and brilliant at math, chess and languages. She's not interested in drugs or alcohol, but she sometimes makes aggressive use of sex. In a strange way, even at her most self-destructive, she's working intelligently at repairing her personal damage. Totally likeable, she hardly knows how to handle it when people do like her.

There are lots of other wonderful characters, too, flawed in ways that only make them more interesting. Despite the plethora of broken heads, hearts and windows in this book, the dialog is often quite funny and the mood curiously upbeat.

I have to assume the translation is excellent, because Alina Bronsky comes across as a very fine writer with a truly original turn of mind. Hope she's at work on another book!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bridge to nowhere: April 9 2014
By nadia - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The story started off strong, but then just went nowhere. It's a story that had potential, but then just gave up trying.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A modern coming-of-age novel Feb. 18 2013
By Criticalthinker - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'll let every other reviewer reiterate the plot of Bronsky's book (whether they have read it or not...too often these Amazon reviews are nothing more than regurgitated blurbs). What I can tell you about Broken Glass Park can be summed up in a handful of sentences:

It is above all else a coming-of-age novel, with a secondary theme of redemption. There is surprisingly little real-time plot, and the narrative follows a standard-template story arc. The author has achieved a unique, engaging -- if not always likable -- voice in her first-person narrator Sacha. Characterizations are uneven, inconsistent and largely shallow, though that lack of complexity is in keeping with Sasha's voice and experiences. There is a subtle and wicked humor here that makes me wish I could read it in the original German.

In short, this is not a perfect work, but it's an impressive first novel and a worthwhile read. It was slow to pull me in, but it had me after about 50 pages. I had to sit down and finish it in one go.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Street Smart and Vulnerable March 16 2012
By LH422 - Published on
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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For my soul is full of troubles April 14 2011
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is a hard-knock life for 17-year old Sascha Naiman. Born in Russia she moved with her mother, step-father and two younger siblings from Russia to what is effectively a low-income apartment block in Berlin mostly populated with other Russian immigrants. She is also an orphan after witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by her step-father Vadim. The theme of the book is set in the opening paragraph: "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." After reading that opening paragraph I was hooked.

Broken Glass Park is Alina Bronsky's first novel. Bronsky was born in Yekaterinburg in the Urals and moved with her family to Germany as a teenager. Translated from German, this debut novel really impressed me.

There's a lot to like about Sascha: she's smart, tough, and resilient. She's got moxie and knows it. On the surface she is mature beyond her years. Necessity has dictated that, even when her mother was alive, she was the `adult' in the family. An older cousin has flown in from Russia to supervise the family and keep the children from `protective services', but Sascha remains the glue that keeps her family together. But, all appearances to the contrary, she is still a vulnerable and at times naïve teenager. She may be book smart and street smart but she still cannot help at times looking at the world through some pretty naïve eyes. Additionally, she's is incredibly closed. As one might expect after being a witness to family brutality, her emotions are well-hidden, or so it seems.

Broken Glass Park was written in Sascha's voice and because Bronsky has done such a good job in articulating that voice the story had a great deal of appeal for me. What Bronsky has done very well is create a voice that only gradually reveals Sascha. We start off by seeing the gruff, smart exterior and what has happened to her and what she thinks of things seems to reveal itself in small accidental bursts that puncture the shell Sascha has created for herself. It feels as if we are finding out about Sascha at the same time she is finding out about herself. In essence, I believed the voice that Bronsky has created for Sascha.

This is Bronsky's first novel and it shows at times. Sometimes the pacing of the story seemed a bit uneven and I didn't always have a feel for the time that had passed in between events in the story. But that said, after reading Broken Glass Park I was ready to read more of Bronsky's work because this book contained a promise of things to come. I do hope that her next book, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, lives up to that promise.

Highly Recommended. L. Fleisig

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