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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Broken Glass Park

Alina Bronsky

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To purchase Broken Glass Park

Title: Broken Glass Park
Author: Alina Bronsky
Genre: Novel
Written: 2008 (Eng. 2010)
Length: 221 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Broken Glass Park - US
Broken Glass Park - UK
Broken Glass Park - Canada
Broken Glass Park - India
Scherbenpark - Deutschland
La vendetta di Sasha - Italia
  • German title: Scherbenpark
  • Translated by Tim Mohr

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Our Assessment:

B : decent adolescent-dealing-with-trauma tale

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Financial Times . 26/4/2010 Maria Crawford
FAZ . 2/10/2008 Oliver Jungen
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 15/10/2008 Judith Leiste
Die Welt . 23/8/2008 Rainer Moritz
World Lit. Today . 5-6/2009 Elizabeth Powers
Die Zeit . 9/10/2008 David Hugendic

  From the Reviews:
  • "Bronsky’s language is potent and vital. Brutality, rage, loss and trauma are expressed with candour. As a result, when Sascha’s flashes of tenderness and vulnerability rupture the prose at unexpected moments, they hit the reader with as much force as her more violent impulses." - Maria Crawford, Financial Times

  • "In ihrem Debütroman Scherbenpark ist die sonst so vergötterte Sprache kaum mehr als Transportmittel der Handlung: einfachster Satzbau, jede zweite Zeile direkte Rede, wobei sich die Autorin nicht einmal die Mühe macht, das Wörtchen "sagt" zu variieren. Auch zur hehren Intertextualität verhält sich das Buch wie Pfefferkuchen zur Haute Cuisine. Diese Geschichte lebt vom Plot allein, aber, muss man sagen, sie lebt nicht schlecht davon." - Oliver Jungen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Die Eloquenz und die Intelligenz der Wortführerin verhindern, dass hier eine auf Betroffenheit abzielende Mitleidsprosa erzeugt wird. (...) Alina Bronsky schreibt knapp 300 Seiten hochtourig, und natürlich führt ihr Hang, permanent Geschwindkeitsrekorde aufzustellen, dazu, dass in Scherbenpark vieles mit zu rasantem und zu dickem Pinsel aufgetragen wird. Wo die Töne indes leiser werden, gelingen ihr erstaunliche Szenen" - Rainer Moritz, Die Welt

  • "It is an edgy coming-of-age story, and one's taste for it will depend on one's tolerance for the breathless tirade of opinions by an obnoxious, know-it-all adolescent." - Elizabeth Powers, World Literature Today

  • "Formale Unebenheiten werden niedergequasselt. Gut, die Erzählerin ist pubertäre 17. Die Schriftstellerin indes nicht. Wir warten auf den Film." - David Hugendic, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Broken Glass Park is narrated by seventeen-year-old Sascha Naimann, who came to Germany from Russia when she was ten. She's very smart -- and particularly good at maths -- but has more than the usual coming-of-age difficulties to deal with: a few years earlier her no-good stepfather, Vadim, killed her mother and the new man in her life. Vadim is in jail, and Sascha dreams of the day she can take her revenge and kill him. Meanwhile, she lives with her two siblings, both of whom are Vadim's children -- the bright toddler, Alissa, who is too young to remember that fateful day, and Anton, who was already damaged even before Vadim committed his most heinous crime. And there's Maria, Vadim's cousin, twice-removed, imported from Novosibirsk to take care of the three minors, a situation better than any of the family-services alternatives.
       Sascha affects an attitude of not caring about anything except her siblings (and exacting her revenge). She goes to a very good school, but all her classmates are much better-off than she is; the class-difference isn't oppressive and they aren't nasty about it, but she can't connect well with these kids who have such different lifestyles from the one her family can afford. The housing estate she lives in is pretty run-down, and there's the 'Broken Glass Park' of the title nearby where the bad youths hang out, but this is Germany and the place is still extraordinarily safe: Sascha has to try really, really hard to get herself in unpleasant situations (as she is tempted to do on an occasion or two).
       In Broken Glass Park Sascha babbles on and on about her life and situation, eventually also revealing what exactly happened to her mother. Presenting a mix of memories and present day-to-day life, Sascha is still coming to terms with what happened; not surprisingly, it's a very rocky road.
       Sascha has never wanted to know who her own father is, but another father-figure, Volker, enters her life (in a rather bizarre way: he is an editor at a newspaper that ran a story Sascha objected to). Sascha has some father-issues, and has considerably mixed emotions (including some of the romantic sort) towards Volker; conveniently, Volker is not only a good guy -- i.e. he's careful in how he handles the girl -- but has a son close to her age, Felix. (Even more conveniently, Felix also has his own vulnerabilities, preventing Sascha from dwelling solely on her own.)
       Broken Glass Park is a fast-paced tour through Sascha's life in these months, the powerless girl trying to assert some control in a variety of ways -- from how her siblings are to be raised to who she will have sex with. She seems to have a decent grip on things -- she's efficient and seems to be largely in control -- but it's clear that she is still overwhelmed by her situation. Much remains beyond her control, culminating in her great ambition -- the distant prospect of killing Vadim when he is released from jail -- being taken from her.
       Her siblings and her responsibility for them are something of an anchor for Sascha, but like an anchor they also weigh her down. She finds brief escape with Volker and Felix, but sees that that isn't the bigger step she needs to take, either (declining to go on vacation with them, for example). Ultimately, however, in the open-ended conclusion, she seems more secure in figuring things out for herself.
       Broken Glass Park is a restless story, full of typically adolescent behavior that includes lashing out in all directions, moods constantly swinging, and little regard for the longer term consequences of actions. What makes it bearable is that Sascha is, for the most part, a sympathetic character; she's fundamentally a very good girl (and so bright, and such a devoted older sister), too, which makes one more tolerant of her more obnoxious outbursts. And it's hard not to sympathize with the girl who saw her mom get killed.
       Bronsky does a decent job with the teen voice, though the relentless pressing forward can get tiresome. There's a lack of focus -- in what Sascha does and what she wants --, too, but in that Broken Glass Park can be seen as a realistic depiction of teen aimlessness. Sprinkled in, however, are some nice set pieces and well-observed details, including the loving memories of mom and the analysis of characters from no-good Vadim to her brother and Maria
       It's a bit overdramatic, all of it, but then with a premise such as this one -- stepdad kills mom in front of the kids -- it's probably hard not to be.

- M.A.Orthofer, 30 March 2010

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Broken Glass Park: Reviews: Other books by Alina Bronsky under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of German literature

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About the Author:

       Alina Bronsky (a pseudonym) was born in Russia in 1978 and emigrated to Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union.

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