Title: Broken Glass Park
Author: Alina Bronsky
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 221
This dark and disturbing yet compelling character study centers around Sascha, a Russian teenage girl living in Germany who wants to kill her stepfather. Her stepfather is in prison for killing her mom and Sascha is biding her time until he gets out. She is sort of an anti-heroine, and while she is not likable her motivation and viewpoints are fully understandable. She can’t stand living with her stepdad’s sister, so she leaves her siblings behind and goes to live with an older man and his son.
The older man is nice at first but gradually becomes creepy and the decisions Sascha makes made me roll my eyes in disbelief. For a smart girl, this kid makes some of the stupidest choices imaginable. Broken Glass Park is written in a low-key, conversational style that makes it very easy to read and Sascha has a strong voice. She’s often cruel and thinks she’s better than everybody else which is what made her unlikable but she’s also a very interesting character.
It’s good to see heroines who are powerfully written but not traditionally likable. You get a very strong sense of how much Sascha loved her mom and how much she loves her half-brother and half-sister, even though she’s angry at her mother for staying for so long in an abusive relationship and making excuses for her abuser. The only thing I really didn’t like was the ending, it was very unsatisfying to me. I also questioned some of the other plot developments, like Alina almost being raped by one of her neighbors and then still seeming to be on good terms with him.
Another thing was I felt that the plotline with the man and his son didn’t go anywhere, especially with all the drama it incited. That said, I did enjoy this book (even though ‘enjoy’ seems like the wrong word since it’s so bleak) and I was excited to learn that there is a movie based on it! I saw online that Alina Bronsky has written a bunch of other books and I want to get to reading all of them eventually. Broken Glass Park is heart wrenching story about survival and growing up in a terrible environment while finding the courage to break free. It was very well-written and peopled by interesting and morally ambiguous characters.