Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Broken Glass Park

I read Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky last week.  It was translated from German, and is about a teenage girl, Sacha, whose family moved to Berlin from Russia.  Her mother's ex-husband, Vadim, murdered her mom and her mom's current boyfriend about a year before the beginning of the novel.  Sacha has two goals: to write a book about her mother's life, and to murder Vadim.

Vadim is currently in prison for the murder, but she makes plans and is ready to wait till he gets released.  When a local paper publishes a sympathetic interview with him, Sacha goes to the office to speak with the writer.  This leads to her introduction to the editor of the paper, a complicated man named Volker, and brings more changes into her life, some bad and some good.

Sacha and her brothers and sisters live in a tenement apartment, with a distant cousin as a guardian.  Sacha is intelligent, sharp and sarcastic, but clearly in pain, fighting the overwhelm and horror in her life.  I wish she could be friends with Doria, the protagonist of Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faiza Guene.  They seem like kindred spirits.  Doria is a teenaged Moroccan immigrant in a Paris tenement, living with her mother.  Her father has left them for a second wife back in Morocco, and she's dealing with that abandonment along with larger issues of racism, classism, and sexism.  Both girls are wounded but fighting, not accepting of their situations.

If I were eight (and for some reason these books were appropriate for eight-year-olds) I would totally have me and a friend pretend to be Sacha and Doria, and we'd go off and have adventures.

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